Preparations 'advanced' for pandemic flu

Health Minister Shaun Woodward said preparations for dealing with a possible pandemic flu were "very advanced".

As part of the ongoing preparations for a possible outbreak which is worrying countries across the world, the Northern Ireland Interim Influenza Pandemic Contingency Plan has been updated and re-launched and is available on the DHSSPS website at www.dhsspsni.gov.uk/phealth/pandemic/pandemic_contingency.asp

Commenting on the changes, the Minister said: "My department has drawn up a very comprehensive plan which will link in with the UK's national plan. It contains detailed actions and outlines responsibilities for all the relevant health agencies so that, in the event of a pandemic, the health service will be better able to cope under the increased pressure.

"The threat of a pandemic flu is very real. The spread of avian flu beyond Asia is obviously worrying and has increased fears that the avian flu virus could combine with a human influenza virus to create a virus with pandemic potential.

"A great deal of work has already been done to prepare for a pandemic flu. We are stockpiling anti-virals and, in line with medical advice, will have drugs to treat 25% of the population by September next year.

"Although it is not known yet what exact virus will cause a pandemic, the Department of Health will purchase vaccine, developed from the variant H5N1 strain of flu in south east Asia. This, we are advised, should offer protection to health care staff."

Meanwhile, the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) has said that effective biosecurity measures by poultry keepers are vital in protecting Northern Ireland against the introduction of avian influenza.

Speaking on Wednesday, a DARD spokesperson stressed that while the overall risk assessment of Avian Flu occurring in Northern Ireland remained low, it was important that poultry keepers remain vigilant and prepared for any potential disease outbreak.

DARD has banned imports of poultry and poultry products from all affected countries and regions, including Romania and Turkey.


Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

27 July 2009
Tamiflu Prescribed For First Time
An antiviral drug is now being dispensed in NI for the first time. As more people are falling ill with suspected swine flu, Tamiflu is going to patients who present with symptoms.
24 October 2019
Child Flu Vaccinations To Be Delayed
Child flu vaccination services are likely to be delayed in Northern Ireland, the Public Health Agency (PHA) has warned. GPs will now prioritise children with underlying health conditions and pre-school children over the age of two as routine testing of the Fluenz Tetra nasal vaccine is delayed.
28 April 2017
Bird Flu Protection Measures To Be Extended In NI
The Department of Agriculture has confirmed that bird flu protection measures are to be extended in Northern Ireland. The Avian Influenza Protection Zone is being extended until 31 May 2017. NI's Chief Veterinary Officer Robert J Huey is reminding all bird keepers to remain vigilant.
05 November 2019
Pharmacies To Offer Free Flu Jab To Health Staff
A pilot service offering frontline health and social care workers a free flu vaccine in their local pharmacy has been launched in the North West. Piloting the scheme in counties Fermanagh, Tyrone and L'Derry, the Health and Social Care Board hopes the scheme will make the jab a lot more convenient for staff.
15 January 2010
Flu Pandemic 'Exaggerated'
Northern Ireland's latest swine flu figures are still on the way down.