Swine-flu crews ready

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Dunedin, Invercargill on standby.

Emergency medical staff from Invercargill and Dunedin are on standby to rush to Queenstown for an outbreak of swine flu.

Otago and Southland District Health Boards are yet to confirm a local case of the rapidly spreading pandemic.
But with more than 300 people affected in New Zealand and an influx of overseas visitors coming to Queenstown over winter, health bosses are gearing up for worst-case scen­arios.

“Because of the international airport at Queenstown, if there’s a need to provide extra resources then we’ll be doing that, either from Invercargill or Dunedin,” SDHB chairman Paul Menzies says.

“Both DHBs are dedicating extra staff to that frontline service so we are prepared to put out the fires wherever they’re going to start.

“Frontline medical staff and nurses will be deployed as required, depending on the size of the response needed.”
Menzies adds: “We’re hoping it’s not going to eventuate of course, as we are still pretty vigilant at the borders.”

Mountain Scene also understands Norman Gray, boss of Lakes District Hospital in Frankton, will step out of his usual job for up to three months to coordinate the local medical response to swine flu.

The move comes into place this weekend when Aussie holidaymakers begin arriving in numbers.

Other precautions in­­-clude international passengers showing symptoms being driven by ambulance on the short trip from Queenstown Airport to LDH for monitoring.

Staff at the hospital are also being advised that anyone showing up and complaining of flu should be masked and kept away from other patients.

Local medical officer of health Dr Derek Bell will oversee the isolation of a case if they are a visitor staying at a hotel or motel but Wakatipu residents affected will be instructed to isolate themselves at home.

Bell and other medical officers of health are the only ones authorised to release Tamiflu from the Crown stockpile, stored at Summerfield’s Frankton Pharmacy.