Dublin South West TD, Seán Crowe, has called on the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, to ensure that additional resources are put in place to deal with the very real possibility in a huge increase in patients presenting at hospitals following a dramatic rise in the number of ‘Australian flu’ cases.
The Sinn Féin TD made his comments after the HSE confirmed that a number of people have died from the H3N2 strain.
Deputy Seán Crowe said:
“Warnings about the severity and the virulent nature of this particular flu virus surfaced a number of months ago when it hit Australia with 170,000 over cases and it resulted in over 300 deaths.
“It now appears extremely likely that the strain is now taking hold here in Ireland, with up to 73 people reportedly hospitalised with flu symptoms.
“The HSE are rightly encouraging people, especially those in high risk groups, to get the flu vaccine.
“Many of our older citizens, young children, and those with underlying health conditions are at high risk and family members need to seriously consider getting them vaccinated. It’s highly predictable that the number of cases will rise dramatically over the next couple of weeks, with a spike over the next two, so people need to be more proactive in prevention and around their personal health.
“I share the concerns of many health professionals that this additional and significant increase in cases could pose a serious threat to our crisis ridden hospital system with more and more presenting at hospitals.
“The Minister for Health Simon Harris needs to ensure that additional resources are put in place to deal with the very real possibility in a huge increase in patients presenting at hospitals following a dramatic rise in the number of ‘Australian flu’ cases.
“In the majority of cases this flu, while serious, can be treated at home. However there will always be more severe cases which will need acute medical intervention.
“There are a number of hospitals across the country whose A&E Departments are at breaking point. If a predicted surge in serious flu cases comes then A&E Departments and hospitals with limited bed capacity will be unable to cope or manage under this additional pressure
“Minister Harris and the HSE need to be fully prepared to deal with this outbreak, and immediately put in place a plan and additional resources to contain this latest crisis.”