Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Health Billy Kelleher has warned Minister Simon Harris to ensure that resources are in place to deal with a possible surge in the number of people being admitted to hospital following a spike in the number of “Aussie flu” cases.
It comes as the HSE confirms that a number of people have died from the H3N2 strain.
Deputy Kelleher explained, “Warnings about the severity of this flu virus were issued months ago, when it first surfaced in Australia, now it appears as if the strain is taking hold here, with 73 people having been hospitalised so far this winter. The fact that a number of deaths have now been recorded is particularly worrying.
“The HSE is continuing to encourage people to get the flu vaccine – especially those in high risk groups.
“Older people, children, and people with underlying health conditions are at particular risk and it’s feared that the number of cases here could rise dramatically over the coming weeks. I am concerned that any significant increase in cases could pose a serious threat to our already overburdened hospital system. 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 Emergency Departments are at breaking point. If a predicted surge in serious flu cases comes to pass, these departments will struggle to cope. I am calling for assurances from Minister Harris and the HSE that we are fully prepared to deal with any possible outbreak, and that a management plan and resources are in place to control the situation”.