Doctors urged the government yesterday to make arrangements for more rooms to be made available for intensive-care patients, as it was revealed that more than 200 new cases of swine flu have been confirmed in Greece this week alone, including that of a 16-year-old British girl who became the third person to suffer serious problems after contracting the virus.

The Hellenic Center for Infectious Diseases Control (KEEL) said in a statement yesterday that 210 people had contracted swine flu between July 20 and 27, taking the total number of confirmed cases in Greece to 730.

However, it is estimated that the total number of sufferers is much higher, as tests are not being carried out on all suspected cases.

Authorities also confirmed late last week that a 16-year-old British girl, who developed serious breathing problems after contracting the disease, has been admitted to an intensive-care unit at the Pendeli children’s hospital in northern Athens.

Her condition was said to be serious but stable.

She is the third swine flu sufferer to be admitted to an intensive-care unit. Two men in critical condition are still hospitalised in Iraklio, Crete.

The rapid rise in the number of swine flu cases and the fact that some sufferers are now needing intensive treatment led to representatives of the Federation of Greek Hospital Doctors’ Unions to ask Health Ministry officials to help them set up more intensive-care beds so authorities are prepared for a pandemic.

The government said that it would assist hospitals so they could offer another 50 beds.

Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos said that Greece is due to receive the first batch of vaccine against swine flu on September 14, ahead of a mass inoculation program.

Avramopoulos also outlined the key points of the national action plan against the H1N1 flu, while briefing the parliamentary Health committee.

The plan, he stressed, includes all activities capable for protecting public health and safeguarding the nation’s economy.

Avramopoulos said that private doctors and dentists will be employed in the campaign, while he is meeting next week with the pharmacists to see if they will join the campaign.

The Health Minister then lashed out at the main Opposition party, PASOK, blaming them for using the pandemic to further their own political interests.

In addressing the leadership of PASOK, Avramopoulos urged them to stop spreading uncertainty and panic and questioning the Greek state’s ability to tackle the problem.

The Government, he stressed, promptly stepped in, impressing the international community with its prompt action.