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Publication Date: 05/05/2009 

Lanarkshire ready in event of flu pandemic 

 

Dr Harpreet Kohli 

"We are very well prepared", Dr Harpreet Kohli, NHS Lanarkshire Director of Public Health 

Lanarkshire is well prepared to respond to a flu pandemic.

That is the message from public health doctors in NHS Lanarkshire. They have been working with clinicians, NHS managers and local councils for several years to develop detailed plans to ensure arrangements are in place in the event of a pandemic.

Dr Harpreet Kohli, NHS Lanarkshire’s Director of Public Health, said: “We are confident we have the right plans and resources in place should the current situation develop and there is widespread transmission of Influenza A (H1N1) among the population.

“The Lanarkshire Pandemic Flu Plan is a joint plan between NHS Lanarkshire, North Lanarkshire Council and South Lanarkshire Council. It sets out the actions we will take and arrangements we will put in place to ensure an effective and coordinated response to a pandemic.”

The plan details specific actions to prepare for and cope with additional demand on Lanarkshire's hospitals, community health and social services in the event of a pandemic. It also includes arrangements for effectively distributing anti-viral medicines and providing vaccinations.Pandemic flu occurs when a new strain of influenza spreads around the world affecting a high proportion of the population. In the last century there were three pandemics: Spanish flu in 1918/19; Asian flu in 1957/58; and Hong Kong flu in 1968/69.

Dr Kohli said: “It has been 40 years since the last pandemic. This would suggest that we are overdue the next one, although it is not possible to predict when it will happen.

“Because we have known for many years that another pandemic is likely, we are very well prepared. Our local pandemic flu plan is linked to the Scottish Government’s framework for responding to an influenza pandemic which is based on the UK Influenza Pandemic Contingency Plan. The World Health Organisation has said UK planning for a flu pandemic is among the most advanced in the world.

“Unlike previous pandemics, we now have very good monitoring in place so we can track the spread of new strains of influenza. We also have new anti-viral drugs such as oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza) all of which will help us lessen the effects of a pandemic.”

Swine Flu is also known as influenza A(H1N1).

What can I do to protect myself and others against flu?

The best thing you can do to protect yourself is to follow good hygiene practices. These will help to slow the spread of the virus and will be the single most effective thing you can do to protect yourself and others from infection.

When you cough or sneeze it is especially important to follow the rules of good hygiene to prevent the spread of germs:

  • Always carry tissues.
  • Use clean tissues to cover your mouth and nose when you cough and sneeze.
  • Bin the tissues after one use.
  • Wash your hands with soap and hot water or a sanitiser gel often.

There’s a simple way to remember this: CATCH IT, BIN IT, KILL IT.

What should I do if I have just returned from Mexico or an affected country and I think I might have Swine Flu, also known as Influenza A(H1N1)?
  • Stay at home.
  • Check your symptoms on www.nhs24.com
  • Call the Swine Flu Information Line on 0800 1 513 513 to hear the latest advice.
  • If you have taken these steps and are still concerned, contact your GP, or call NHS 24 on 111. They will give you advice on your symptoms and the next steps you should take.
  • Do not go into your GP surgery or local accident and emergency department unless you are advised to do so or you are seriously ill, because you might spread the illness to others.
What are the symptoms?

Some of the symptoms are the sudden onset of fever, cough or shortness of breath. Other symptoms can include headache, sore throat, tiredness, aching muscles, chills, sneezing, runny nose or loss of appetite.