US embassy cable - 06PARIS520

UPDATED FRENCH AVIAN FLU PLAN

Identifier: 06PARIS520
Wikileaks: View 06PARIS520 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Paris
Created: 2006-01-26 11:48:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Tags: TBIO CASC AMGT FR KFLU
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 PARIS 000520 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR OES/HA, EUR/WE 
HHS FOR INTERNATIONAL BUDASHEWITZ 
USDA FOR ITP/MACKE/THOMAS, CMP/DLP/WETZEL 
USDA FOR FAS PASS FSIS AND APHIS 
CDC FOR DR. DBELL 
HOMELAND SECURITY FOR OIA 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: TBIO, CASC, AMGT, FR, KFLU 
SUBJECT: UPDATED FRENCH AVIAN FLU PLAN 
 
REF: 05 Paris 7573, and previous 
 
1.  Summary.  In its updated strategic plan to 
combat avian flu, the French government 
recognizes the six alert phases defined by WHO 
and details the roles and responsibilities of 
government agencies that would be involved in 
the event of a pandemic.  The plan also 
underscores the importance of international 
cooperation and coordination, and announces 
the reinforcement of means allocated to the 
Pasteur Institutes in Asia.  Additional masks, 
antiviral treatments, and vaccines are being 
ordered.  End summary. 
 
New Strategic Plan 
------------------ 
 
2.  On January 11, Health Minister Xavier 
Bertrand officially presented the updated 
version of the French plan to combat an avian 
pandemic flu. The plan can be found at the GOF 
website dedicated to avian flu: 
http://www.grippeaviaire.gouv.fr. 
The previous plan, prepared in late 2004, was 
released in May 2005.  The new version 
incorporates the results of recent avian flu 
preparedness exercises conducted in France 
(June 2005, ref A) and at the EU level 
(November 2005). 
 
More "Operational" 
------------------ 
 
3.The new plan outlines three main 
objectives: 
 
To care for the maximum number of patients at 
home. Access to hospital care will be strictly 
limited to the most serious cases to avoid the 
saturation of   emergency services. 
 
To guarantee access to medical treatment. 
 
Anticipate and minimize economic and social 
disruptions in the event of a pandemic. 
 
The Structure 
------------- 
 
4.  Not only does the plan adopt WHO's six 
phases of pandemic alert, but it also defines 
the GOF agencies key to each phase of alert -- 
Office of the Prime Minister, Agriculture, 
Interior, Health Ministries, and inter- 
ministerial crisis management structures. It 
further elaborates on the roles and 
responsibilities for each agency.  Each agency 
is tasked to develop a "continuity plan" for 
all centralized and decentralized services, 
establishments under the ministry's 
supervision, and socio-economic services 
coming under the agency's responsibility. 
 
Social/Economic Stability 
------------------------- 
 
5.  The revised plan details measures which 
could be adopted by the Prime Minister to 
address a pandemic situation, e.g. closing 
borders, suspension of public transportation, 
organization of transportation for the sick, 
interruption of "non essential" economic 
activities and restriction of professional 
activities, closing of child care centers and 
schools, stockpiling of foodstuff, 
postponement of public gatherings, 
implementation of price controls, 
requisitioning of staff, goods and services, 
restricted access to energy resources, etc. 
 
Stockpiling: More is Better 
--------------------------- 
 
6.  Protective masks: The GOF has ordered 
another 52 million protective masks for 
medical workers in addition to the 148 million 
already delivered to 272 medical 
establishments.  In total, 200 million masks 
are to be available by May 2006, reportedly 
representing one-third of the annual world 
production.  France is reportedly developing 
its own mask production capacity: 140 million 
protective masks will be manufactured in 
France in 2006, with the aim of producing 300 
to 400 million per year. 
 
7.  Anti-projection masks: Paris has also 
secured 250 million "anti-projection masks" 
for flu victims, in order to prevent a flu 
patient from contaminating his/her 
surroundings. The new plan notes France will 
order another 750 million. 
 
8.  Antiviral medicine: The new plan provides 
for the delivery, by 2007, of 10 million 
additional doses of Tamiflu and 9 million of 
Relenza.  By 2007, France will have stockpiled 
33 million antiviral treatments, compared to 
14 million at the end of 2005.  Health 
Minister Xavier Bertrand noted that the new 
figures are "significantly above" the 25 
percent population coverage advocated by WHO. 
France, he said, wants to be able to avoid 
the problem of resistance to one specific 
anti-viral medicine and thus the reasoning for 
the increased stockpiling of Relenza.  The 
Minister further added that because some of 
its Tamiflu is being kept as bulk medicine its 
potency can last for up to ten years. Anti- 
viral medicine will be distributed at no cost 
on an 'as needed' basis in case of a pandemic. 
 
9.  Vaccines: The GOF is manufacturing 
vaccines against H5N1 to be used in the event 
of a pandemic. Originally, the GOF had ordered 
40 million doses of the H5N1 vaccine. 
Contemporaneous with the release of the new 
strategic plan, Health Minister Bertrand 
announced the GOF's intent to increase the 
amount of vaccine to 62 million doses in order 
to "insure the vaccination of all French 
citizens," and indicated that the ministry was 
working directly with the pharmaceutical 
laboratories accordingly. 
 
Improving information and training 
---------------------------------- 
 
10.  The GOF has also defined and started 
implementing a major information campaign 
targeting both the health community and the 
general public.  Key messages focus on 
hygiene/prevention but also crisis management 
measures in order to avoid overwhelming 
hospital emergency services.  The distribution 
of leaflets/posters in travel agencies, 
railway stations, and airports will be 
increased.  The French media has asked to play 
its part in informing the general public as 
well.  Mainly under the aegis of the Pasteur 
Institute, training and dissemination of 
information on avian influenza preparedness is 
underway. 
 
Emphasis on International Cooperation 
------------------------------------- 
 
11. The new plan highlights international 
coordination, particularly at the European 
level.  Bertrand indicated on January 11 that 
France recently proposed that each EU member- 
state contribute 1-3 percent of its national 
antiviral stockpile to a "European" stockpile. 
The plan also provides for the reinforcement 
of capacity at Pasteur Institutes in Southeast 
Asia, with notably the creation of 20 
virologist and epidemiologist positions. 
 
Other measures 
-------------- 
 
12.  Exercises: France will stage two full- 
scale exercises in February and March 2006, 
the first one at the regional level (similar 
to the one in Finistere in November 25); the 
second one at the national level to ensure 
that all professionals and authorities 
concerned "know their role and 
responsibilities." 
 
13.  Poultry Confinement:  Following the 
release of the plan, the GOF announced on 
January 13 that mandatory confinement of 
poultry was extended to 32 new departments in 
continental France.  Altogether 58 departments 
(out of a hundred) are now subject to this 
requirement. 
 
14.  Agriculture Fair: For the first time in 
its history, the International Agriculture 
Fair in Paris (February 25-March 5) will not 
feature poultry, in accordance with a decree 
by the Agriculture Ministry, despite strong 
protests by French poultry producers. 
 
 
STAPLETON 

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