Regarding older people, we are asking them, and of course their carers, to take the normal precautions, such as avoiding contact with people who may have contracted the illness.
There are two factors that may cause particular problems if this illness does take a grip. The first is what if the carer of an older person becomes ill – this of course may happen anyway, but if we are looking at a situation where this possibility becomes a probability and on a large scale, then we, ie, the community, the HSE and families, have to start thinking about it and develop some possible strategies to cope with it if and when it arises.
The other complicating factor is of course the possible escalation of the pharmacy dispute which may make the problem of older people or their carers accessing medication while ill even more problematic.
The Irish Heart Foundation has not put in place special plans in relation to swine flu for staff or clients above and beyond normal recommendations for anyone contracting any flu.
As always, swine flu and other types of flu have to be taken most seriously by vulnerable groups such as the elderly, the immune-depressed and those with chronic illnesses such as heart failure.
These groups are most at risk and should be vaccinated. Our advice remains in line with advice from the Department of Health and Children, and the World Health Organisation.
NCNA members need to be aware of the possible effects that swine flu could have on their service and have considered contingency plans.
[For example] childcare staff need to be fully aware of the symptoms of swine flu – as do management.
At present, it is not envisaged that NCNA members would be forced to close their services. However, this may change if a specific directive were issued from the Word Health Organisation or HSE giving the swine flu level seven status.
In this situation, NCNA will advise members to follow Department of Public Health advice, but in general the advice will be to continue normal school operations.
I've met with the HSE myself and we are preparing to help them in any way they need. We have a huge network which is open to the HSE in terms of distributing public-health messages.
We are also in touch with the HSE in relation to the bigger pandemic plan. If the swine flu gets to a certain stage, then it will ask us to do certain things depending on the severity of it.
We're lucky in that our season ends in early September [on the third Sunday] so we're finished just at the beginning of the flu season.
The absolute worst-case scenario would be that we have to introduce measures such as cancelling matches. But obviously, we'll have to work with the HSE.
At this moment in time it's a mild pandemic. We're monitoring the situation. But we don't see [cancelling matches] happening in the UK, which is ahead of us in terms of infections.
Our information is by and large in relation to breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is the most appropriate way to protect infants from swine flu. There is nothing else out there which will do as good a job.
Also in relation to mothers taking [the antiviral] Tamiflu, the transfer rate to the infant – or the amount that is coming through in the milk – is miniscule. So breastfeeding mothers can take Tamiflu.
As far as I'm aware, the HSE is not saying that women should delay getting pregnant due to swine flu... At the moment I can't find the information that suggests to me becoming pregnant is a risk. If you are pregnant now, we would tell you to talk to your healthcare provider – for example, GP, midwife clinic in hospital, or obstetric consultant.
If you are not breastfeeding, the HSE advice is that you should consider expressing milk to give to your infant as an anti-infectant.
Gardaí have a business-continuity plan in place to cater for a 25% to 50% reduction in service of garda personnel. The [garda] chief medical officer is working with the HSE and the Department of Health in respect of vaccination. An Garda Síochána is in vaccination priority group two with the fire and ambulance service.