REGIONAL Health Minister, Vicens Thomas, said yesterday that the flu virus is expected to make itself felt in Majorca from the third week of this month onwards. He pointed out that the best way to prevent catching it is through having an annual flu jab. High risk groups including those over 65 or people with chronic chest conditons such as bronchitis should always take this precaution.

Thomas said that if the nature of the virus expected to come to the Islands is of the same strain as that which has affected other regions of the country, the population and the Balearic medical services will be able to contain its effects. He gave notice however that the regional health service will have to “do a balancing act” between seeing to hospital patients who are needing treatment or surgery for conditions unrelated to the flu and to those who are needing doctors' attention as a result of the ravages of the virus.

Lucio Pallares, a director at Palma's Son Dureta hospital said yesterday that occupancy at the medical centre currently stands at 80 percent. For the moment therefore, said Pallares, there is no danger of patient overcrowding. As a result, there have been no difficulties in dealing with people who attend the Emergency department as outpatients.

Pallares said that in the event of Son Dureta reaching saturation point as a result of the flu epidemic, there are other hospitals which can take any patient overload, namely:Son Llatzer in the east Palma district of Son Ferriol, Inca and Manacor general hospitals, and private clinics which have collaboration agreements with the regional Health ministry.


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