STAFF REPORTER
BALEARIC Health Minister, Vicenç Thomas said yesterday that he is putting the final touches to contingency plans for regional health and other essential services to reduce the impact of swine fever in the Islands. “It's a project we've been working on since April,” said Thomas. He added that after Wednesday's inter-regional meeting in Madrid which enabled health ministers to co-ordinate their strategy to tackle the spread of the H1N1 virus, there is now uniformity of practice within the National Health System and it only remains for a “few documents to be formalised.” Thomas said that Balearics is well placed to confront the spread of swine flu as the region has had a strategy in place “for years” to tackle seasonal flu. However, he pointed out that the contingency plans cover the need to produce extra human and technical resources “should there be heightened demand.” Thomas also gave assurances that “whoever needs a vaccination against swine flu, or treatment after contracting it, will get it.” He said that Central Government's Health Ministry has already made arrangements to provide a vaccine for 40 percent of the population. A separate National Health Committee will decide what groups are most at risk from the virus and prioritise the availability of the vaccine accordingly. On the issue of protecting medical staff against the virus, Thomas said that although measures might be taken to lessen the risk in hospitals, professionals could still contract the flu outside.

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