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Major pandemic planning to wrap-up by mid-2006

Hon Pete Hodgson Minister of Health

The current intensity of work to prepare New Zealand for a possible influenza pandemic should subside by mid-year, Health Minister Pete Hodgson said today.

Speaking at the 5th Annual Integrated Emergency Management Conference in Wellington, Pete Hodgson said that while pandemic planning will be ongoing, a substantial framework to manage a pandemic should be completed in the coming months.

"We are in the middle of a very busy pandemic planning process," Pete Hodgson said. "Government agencies, businesses and local bodies will be working hard over the next few months to make sure we're as ready as we can be if a flu pandemic reaches New Zealand.

"Tremendous progress has already been made and the vast majority of our work should be completed by mid-year. The planning process is ongoing, but we are very close to finalising the key elements of New Zealand's response.

"The threat of an influenza pandemic remains a very real one, but it's important to remember that the plans that are being worked on now will be of use in any future pandemic.

"Even if a flu pandemic doesn't eventuate in the near future, a framework will exist for future governments to rely on."


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