Staff Reporter
REGIONAL Health minister, Ana Castillo, said yesterday that although hospitals across the islands are at 95 percent capacity due to patients being admitted with cases of the flu, numbers do not constitute an epidemic. She confirmed her department has ordered the fourth floor of Palma's state-of-the-art Son Llatzer hospital to remain closed for the time being in order to “optimise resources”. The situation is “quite normal” for this time of year, stressed Castillo. She gave reassurances that the number of cases of flu registered in the Balearics up until now, dos not need to send alarm bells ringing throughout the Community. According to the minister, more than 1000 urgent cases are coming to light on a daily basis, while in November and December, the average headcount stood considerably lower, at some 600 patients turning up at hospitals across the islands each day suffering from adverse affects of the flu. It is an established pattern that from 20 January onwards in the Balearics, there is an increase of between 10 and 15 percent in the number of emergency cases being admitted to hospitals in the region due to the incidence of flu, especially amongst the elderly. Castillo reported that her department has set up an extra 100 short-stay beds in health centres across the Islands in readiness for a further influx of flu victims. The needs of all patients will be attended to, vowed Castillo, who was confident that her team would ensure that this year and in 2005, there would be no need to have those waiting for medical treatment to be “parked” in hospital corridors due to lack of beds. Peak demand for hospital facilities starts to subside from February onwards, but the minister said improvement plans were still necessary to bring better quality to the Health service. Castillo said that, in order to comply with Union demand, no patients from the private sector had been accommodated during this peak period in national health hospitals.

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