HEALTH chiefs have set up a top-level team to take command of the NHS response if a flu pandemic hits Huddersfield.
The team is made up of senior medical staff and managers.
Its first task would be to earmark extra resources to deal with an outbreak.
Special isolation wards would be set up at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary and the Calderdale Royal Hospital in Halifax.
Visitors would be urged to stay away from both hospitals during the pandemic.
Estimates vary as to how many people would be infected, but one forecast is that 233 people in Huddersfield could die.
Up to 58,000 people in the town could become infected.
The plans for dealing with an outbreak were unveiled at a meeting of the Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Trust yesterday.
Ian Rufus, the trust's emergency planning officer, said: "Our trust, along with other health organisations in West Yorkshire, has drawn up plans to prepare for the possibility of a flu pandemic or any other extraordinary incident.
"Our arrangements reflect the Department of Health's guidance on flu pandemic contingency planning.
"The NHS is working hard to make sure staff would be able to safeguard local services during a pandemic.
"This extensive planning ensures that in the event of an outbreak every provision has been made by healthcare professionals, at all levels, to provide the most responsive treatment for the people of Calderdale and Huddersfield."
The plans were revealed as a survey said there were wide gaps in the pandemic preparedness of European nations.
Researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said the Czech Republic, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Poland and Portugal were the least prepared.
It is thought that few people, if any, would have any immunity to a new pandemic virus, allowing it to spread widely.
The UK is stockpiling some 14.6m courses of anti-viral drugs - which could help to contain the outbreak and reduce the length of illness - and vaccines are being developed.
But a vaccine cannot be created until the exact pandemic strain is known. Even then it could be months before enough is produced to vaccinate everyone.