Hospital says it is ready for influx of swine flu patients

Following Health Ministry warnings that more than a quarter of Israel's population is expected to fall ill with swine influenza this winter - and that 700 people will die of the disease - Kfar Saba's Meir Hospital is saying that it is ready for an influx of patients, reports Hospital deputy manager Dr. Yossi Noga said the hospital was acting in accordance with ministry instructions and was preparing to designate special wards for the treatment of swine flu patients, and if the situation became particularly severe, it would stop "non-urgent" activities to devote itself to the flu patients. According to the report, the Health Ministry last week warned that 1.8 million Israelis would be struck with swine flu, also known as H1N1, this winter, and that 700 would die of it. Noga said that swine flu, like other types of influenza, is a virus that passes from person to person through airborne particles released in coughs and sneezes from an infected person, and the symptoms include a fever of more than 38 degrees, breathing difficulties, phlegm, coughing, muscle pains, headaches, fatigue and weakness. He said that in most cases people recovered within five to seven days, but those suffering from severe symptoms or in high-risk groups (such as pregnant women or people with chronic illnesses) should not neglect themselves and should go to a hospital to be checked, where, if they were found to be suffering from swine flu, they would be hospitalized and treated for several days. The report said that dozens of swine flu patients had already been hospitalized at Meir, treated and released. "We are acting in accordance with the instructions of the Health Ministry," Noga said. "In the past we have had warnings of other epidemics, so the hospital is ready for this. We are preparing to allocate wards in advance in which the (swine flu) patients will be treated... in severe situations we will stop non-urgent activities and be free for the patients."