Minister heralds flu plan

Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos yesterday stressed that the government’s action plan for responding to a possible swine flu pandemic in Greece was virtually complete, just as a 42-year-old Greek man was diagnosed as the country’s second serious case of infection with the H1N1 virus. The action plan, which was being tweaked yesterday by a committee of experts, reportedly envisages the establishment of special vaccination centers and the mobilization of the private health sector and includes seven alternative scenarios for tackling the spread of the virus. The plan is to be presented to Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and other political leaders by Friday, Avramopoulos said. The minister struck a reassuring note following talks with Karamanlis, saying that there was no reason for panic and noting that «we should continue with our lives as normal without concern.» As for vaccines for swine flu, Avramopoulos said that Greece would be one of the first countries to receive a batch in the fall. Meanwhile doctors on Crete confirmed the country’s second serious case of H1N1 infection. The 42-year-old man, a resident of the Cretan prefecture of Iraklio, was in the intensive-care unit of Iraklio’s university hospital yesterday with symptoms of acute pneumonia after testing positive for swine flu over the weekend. He was admitted to the same unit as the 33-year-old Cretan who was diagnosed as the country’s first serious swine flu case last week. The two men are believed to have worked in the same area, according to sources, who did not elaborate on the patients’ occupations. A third semi-serious case of swine flu was also reported yesterday. A 16-year-old British woman who suffered breathing problems while on holiday on the Ionian island of Cephalonia was transferred to Athens where doctors confirmed that she too had contracted swine flu. Her condition is not believed to be as serious as that of the two Cretan men but she was yesterday under observation in the ICU of the Aghia Sofia Children’s Hospital in Pendeli, north of Athens.