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Current stage of preparations for flu pandemic

Ministry of Social Affairs and Health
Publication date 7.10.2005 9.30
Press release -

The MSAH has set up a working group to prepare for the expected influenza pandemic. The WHO has repeatedly urged governments to make national action plans for the pandemic, which poses a high level risk emanating from the spread of avian influenza, or ‘bird flu’. The working group is to prepare an action plan on dealing with the pandemic.

There are no precise estimates of the probable toll of the pandemic, once it strikes, but the working group is making preparations concerning the needs of the health and other administrative sectors facing a 35% sickness rate nationwide, with between 11,000 and 35,000 hospital admissions and between 3,000 - 9,000 fatalities.

The group has started work on mapping out the possible impact of the pandemic on key areas of public administration faced with a sudden high rate of sickness absences. The aim is to make sure that areas of government will be able to function by implementing advance plans for continuing their operations, for instance using standby labour.

The main aim of preparations is to ensure that the virus does not spread rapidly, to minimize deaths and serious illness and to safeguard society’s essential functions, such as healthcare, fire and rescue services, energy and water, information, transport and food supplies, and law and order.

The most effective way to combat the pandemic would be to vaccinate the entire population. This could take place using two alternative vaccines, neither of which can be acquired immediately. Finland has secured some 1.3 million doses of medicine intended top treat flu cases and alleviates the worst effects of the virus.

Ms Merja Saarinen, Ministerial Counsellor, Health/Medical Affairs, tel. +358 9 160 740 30

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