PALMA
BALEARIC Health Minister, Vicenç Thomas, said yesterday in Palma that his department's swine flu contingency plans which are designed to minimise the impact of the H1N1 virus in the event of a widespread outbreak, will be “ready” next week.

The programme, which Thomas said is now in its final phase, will be activated in its different stages according to the numbers of people contracting the virus. The contingency plans envisage four elementary phases of the disease: firstly, when the virus starts emerging in isolated cases; secondly when there is a massive surge in the number of people catching it; thirdly when the flu is on the wane and a final period of recuperation.

Thomas explained that during the first phase, there will be several project steering committees working to monitor the development of swine flu in the Balearics. This week, an 061 helpline is being set up so that callers can ask information about the virus and seek advice without having to go to their health centres or GPs. It is hoped that this measure will stop lines to the regional health service being blocked and stop people unnecessarily queuing up at hospital emergency departments.

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