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Wednesday, May 06, 2009

On swine flu

The Health Minister came to the Assembly this afternoon to give us an update on the position in Wales with regards to swine flu. As yet there have been no confirmed cases in Wales and those cases in England have mercifully been spared the sort of illness that has been evident in Mexico.

This is not to say that we should be complacent. The World Health Organisation is still on the verge of declaring a pandemic and it is expected that more cases will emerge before the crisis is over.

What it does mean is that we need to keep the issue in perspective whilst maintaining constant vigilance and taking the maximum precautions. Quite what this article in this morning's Western Mail is going on about then goodness only knows.

They have found the usual suspect to accuse the Welsh Government of reacting too slowly to prevent the spread of swine flu after it emerged that warning leaflets are being sent out in Wales a week later than in England. They say that deliveries of the flyers giving advice on how members of the public can help prevent the spread of the disease began in England and Scotland yesterday but the Welsh Government admitted that leaflets would not be delivered until next week.

As the Minister confirmed today the Assembly's information leaflet is already available on-line and on posters, there is a national advertising campaign and a National Swine Flu Information Line. In fact the Welsh Government's leaflets will be delivered to homes in Wales before some areas of England.

This sort of easy scare story does nobody any credit. It generates a sense of panic and urgency when there is no need for one. Swine flu is very serious but we need to take appropriate and timely action not give people the impression that the crisis is worse than it is.
"and those cases in England have mercilessly been spared the sort of illness that has been evident in Mexico."

Yes, thanks. Now corrected. It has been a busy day.
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