A meeting to discuss the progress of an epidemic of H1N1 flu that has so far claimed 60 lives throughout Greece this year was held at the health ministry on Monday. In an announcement afterward, the ministry said it was monitoring developments carefully, noting that 208 had so far been treated in intensive care units for complications caused by the flu, with 110 patients still requiring hospitalisation.

Based on figures released so far, the virus was tending to strike those aged between 30-65 years of age and appeared to be harder on men, who made up 56 percent of those requiring ICU treatment as a result of the flu. Roughly 37 percent of those developing serious complications had previously been absolutely healthy and without any underlying problems.

They also noted that, of the 60 people that have so far lost their lives, none had been vaccinated against the flu.

Experts again stressed that the vaccination could be administered even at this stage and that the phenomenon was expected to peak at the end of this month. They estimate that the number of new cases will start to drop by the end of next week.

The highest number of cases has so far been in northern Greece, where the frequency is five per 100,000 residents, while in Attica the frequency is just 2.2 per 100,000 residents.

Doctors and the public were also advised not to wait until an H1N1 diagnosis is confirmed by laboratory tests in order to administer anti-viral drugs if a patient's symptoms point to H1N1.

They stressed that a very high fever without other symptoms should also be treated as grounds to suspect an H1N1 infection.

Concerning a possible shortage of ICUs, ministry officials said that the system was currently stretched to the limit but would be solved by enlisting use of military hospital ICUs and those of private clinics, if they were needed.