First ‘serious’ case of swine flu in Greece

A 33-year-old man is the first person in Greece to be hospitalized in an intensive-care unit due to swine flu, the Health Ministry said yesterday. The man, who was not named, has been connected to a respirator and his condition has been described as «serious.» The ministry said that he was admitted to the hospital on Sunday suffering from pneumonia but that tests revealed he had contracted swine flu. Officials did not reveal at which hospital the man is being treated. Although well over 300 people have contracted the virus in Greece, there have been no fatalities. Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos is due to brief MPs next week on the government’s plan for combating the illness in the autumn. The possibility that schools will not open in September is one of the options being considered. The ministry is also expected to soon finalize its plans to tackle the pandemic, detailing which social groups will be given the vaccine that is expected to be ready this fall. Meanwhile, in a related development, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis yesterday heralded measures that are designed to ensure that Greeks insured with the IKA social insurance fund get better service. He said that, as of September, a pilot program would begin at eight IKA units whereby those insured with the fund could get free health checkups. He also announced that the 184 hotline, on which callers can book appointments to see IKA doctors, would soon have its software upgraded to provide more efficient service.