Defense against swine flu bolstered

Greece is changing its approach to tackling swine flu from one that focused on preventing the disease from spreading to ensuring that people showing serious signs of ill health get proper treatment. More than 300 cases of the potentially fatal virus have been recorded in Greece but the majority of those people have made a full recovery. However, the rapid spread of the disease abroad as well as the mounting number of people killed has prompted Greek health authorities to concentrate their efforts on treating those that are likely to be most at risk. «We are trying to ensure that everybody in our country, both Greeks and tourists, feel safe,» said Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos. «We have raised the readiness and alertness levels.» Under the new scheme, doctors will assess the seriousness of patients’ conditions without waiting for the results of tests to be returned. Those suffering heavy symptoms, or people in particularly vulnerable groups such as the very young, old people with breathing problems, the obese and women in the first months of pregnancy are to be administered anti-viral drugs. People with less serious symptoms who are not in these groups will be sent home and given instructions about how to prevent themselves infecting other people while they recover from the disease. There are also plans to vaccinate from September those most vulnerable to the virus. Children aged up to 15 are to be vaccinated at their schools and nurseries.