Swine flu enquiries almost double in a week
Swine flu cases double in a week
The UK death toll rises to 128
The number of swine flu cases has doubled in just one week, with hospitals reporting record numbers of patients being treated in the pandemic.
As the death toll rose to128, health officials said the disease appeared to be affectingyounger peopleand those without pre-existing health conditions. Sir Liam Donaldson, the government’s chief medical officer said: ‘It looks as if thevirusis having a different impact in theflu seasonthan it had in the summer.’
New figures suggest53,000 peoplehave gone down with the disease compared with last week’s total of 27,000. Sir Liam admitted doctors were, ‘very unnerved by the severity of illness and how life-and-death situations arose very early’.
Most of those dying were aged under 65 and more than half wereunder 45. This is different toseasonal flu, where most deaths occur in the over-65s. ‘It’s highly unusual to have so many younger people dying. We should not pass this off as an acceptable number,’ he added.
Sir Liam warned that the rise in severe cases would put increased pressure onhospital beds: ‘We are starting to worry about the sustained pressure over the winter that the NHS might face.’ Despite this, the number expected to catch thevirusover the winter has dropped from original estimates of 30 per cent to 12 per cent of the population – about 7.3million people.
In addition, a nationalswine fluimmunisation campaign was launched on Wednesday. Frontline health workers and hospital patients deemed at risk, such as pregnant women and cancer sufferers, were the first to receive thevaccine. GPs will begin immunising at-risk groups in the community, including pregnant women and people with chronic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes, from Monday.
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