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Swine Flu, How Is Ireland Coping?

Monday, 7 September 2009

With well over 1,000 cases in Ireland Swine Flu is hitting the headlines everyday, later on in the show we'll be speaking to the HSE's National Director of Population Health, Dr Pat Doorley

With two deaths so far and thousands infected all over Ireland, Swine Flu has recently been upgraded to a pandemic. Today we have the National Director of Population Health from the HSE Dr. Pat Doorley in studio to give us the facts on Swine Flu.

If you have any questions for the HSE director, don't forget to contact the show, and gather your family around the television as we show you the correct way to wash your hands!

Dr. Pat Doorley, National Director of Population Health, HSE

Dr Pat Doorley is the National Director of Population Health. He is supported by seven Assistant National Directors.The Directorate aims to support the HSE over time to become a population health organisation i.e. one which sees itself as being accountable for improving health outcomes and health status.

Swine flu has been the number one concern for people across the world, for the pastmonths. But, how do you avoid it? How do you help your kids? We have the top expert in the country to answer all your questions throughout the show but before that, let's remind ourselves of the current facts.

Some info according to Dr. Pat Doorley

Are we coping?
The pandemic has plateau'd in Ireland. We are seeing cases stabilise week to week. We are likely to get some spike soon as schools have gone back and we are also coming into the regular flu season. It has plateau'd in the UK too. What we would expect is to see the second wave come in later this year early next year.

Q. How prepared are we?

The HSE have been planning for a pandemic for a number of years. There is a good pandemic plan in place. We have stockpiled essential items such as anti virals, gowns and face masks. We are on the list to receive the vaccine and we hope to have half a million vaccines delivered to us by the end of October to begin immunisation before the expected second wave. We are much better prepared than some of our European counterparts.

Tell us about the vaccine, who is it for/ who can take it?
Well the vaccination process will begin around the end of October. It will be done in three phases.

Phase One, We'll be vaccinating healthcare workers
Phase Two, Vaccinating at risk groups and also emergency services personnel
Phase Three, Mass vaccination programme, vaccinate the general population.

Everyone will need two separate doses of the vaccine. We expect to take delivery of 7.7 million doses of the vaccine over the next 12 months.

Q. Are our schools prepared?

There has been lots of work done by both ourselves and the Department of Education in order to educate students about how to prevent the virus from spreading. Schools around the country are taking it very seriously and have made soap and hand gels available throughout the school for pupils to regularly wash their hands. They have latched into the "Catch it, bin it, kill it" campaign. There is also a protocol in place if a student begins to display symptoms of Swine Flu. This protocol is as follows,

The child will be taken out of the class and the school will contact the parents to let them know their child is displaying symptoms.
School will ask if the parents would like to contact their GP or the school will offer to do it for them
School will watch other pupils in the class closely for symptoms
If many pupils begin to display symptoms a public health team will respond quickly. They will enter the school to assess symptoms.

Q. What's the worst case scenario?

We are prepared for the worst case scenario. In the most likely worst case scenario (official wording), we would expect that 1 - 1.5 million people will be affected over a 12-16 week period or wave but not that is in total, not at a particular time.

Of these, the vast majority will self medicate and get better. In this worst case scenario, on any day there may be 1000 on critical care beds. Of these 1000, about 500 or half will require ventilation.

On any one day, we expect about 15% of the workforce to be absent from work.

Q. How long does the H1N1 virus last on surfaces?

The virus can live on a soft surface for 20 minutes and a hard surface for up to 24 hours.
Simply by washing your hands correctly, reduces that risk.

Swine Flu - Latest Stats (3/9/09)
The number of new cases of human swine flu diagnosed by GPs remains stable, according to the latest figures released by the Department of Health and Children.Around 1,500 new cases were seen in the week to last Sunday.
To date, 82 people have been hospitalised and, of these, 20 remain in hospital. Four people are in intensive care. No new fatalities have been reported. Dr John Devlin, Deputy Chief Medical Officer at the department said that most cases remain mild with good recovery.

****HSE Swine Flu info line 1800941100

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