Swine flu cases drop

THE number of people with suspected swine flu in East Anglia has dropped dramatically in the past seven days, latest figures have shown.Regional health bosses have reported the amount of people who received a unique reference number through the National Flu Pandemic Service - which enables those assessed with the virus to get Tamiflu - dropped by 38pc in the past week.

THE number of people with suspected swine flu in East Anglia has dropped dramatically in the past seven days, latest figures have shown.

Regional health bosses have reported the amount of people who received a unique reference number through the National Flu Pandemic Service - which enables those assessed with the virus to get Tamiflu - dropped by 38pc in the past week.

Figures released on Thursday July 30 showed there had been 30,174 people either calling or logging onto the flu service, but on Thursday August 6 there had been 18,507 cases.

This backs up predictions from health experts that the first “wave” of the pandemic is over and we have now hit a calmer period before the predicted second wave later in the year.


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A spokeswoman from the regional health authority, NHS East of England, said: “There is a clear indication that the number of cases in the east of England has decreased significantly in the last week.

“This appears to confirm our planning assumptions of a plateau or decline, ahead of a second wave later in the year.

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“The majority of cases continue to be mild. People who think they may have flu should be using the national service. People who have swine flu symptoms will be given a unique reference number and told where their nearest antiviral collection point is. They should then ask a flu friend - a friend or relative who doesn't have swine flu - to go and pick up their antivirals.”

A breakdown of the figures in the region showed:

- In the NHS Norfolk area the number of “observed” swine flu cases has dropped from 148.5 per 100,000 people to 35 and the number of antivirals collected dropped from 2196 to 1586

- In Suffolk there were 76 per 100,000 people reported this week - a drop from 208 per 100,000 the week before and the number of antivirals handed out fell to 1108 from 1619

- In the NHS Yarmouth and Waveney area 844 unique reference numbers were issued in week one and this fell to 549 in week two.

Dr John Battersby, director of public health for NHS Norfolk, said: “To date the swine flu outbreak across Norfolk has, for the majority of people, been very mild.

“The total number of Norfolk residents who have received antiviral medication since the beginning of the outbreak is around 10,000. From a peak of around 700 daily cases we are now averaging about 300 cases per day.

“As expected, staff have taken a sensible approach to the current outbreak and sickness across all organisations has shown no significant increases.”

Dr Shamsher Diu, consultant in public health for NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney, said: “We will continue to monitor the situation closely and keep the locations of our anti-viral collection centres under constant review. We are fully prepared to respond, should we start to see a rise in the number of people with flu-like illnesses once more.”

There are currently 50 people in hospitals with swine flu across the east of England. Two of these are in critical care.

Meanwhile plans are in place for school nurses, health volunteers and GPs to deliver injections to 8.5 million five to 16 year-olds at every school in the country as part of what would be the biggest mass vaccination since the 1964 smallpox operation.

While the first wave of the pandemic appears to be on its way out the mass vaccination would be a means of protecting children from a second wave of the virus expected in the autumn.

The estimated new cases of swine flu last week was 30,000 compared with 110,000 the week before, showing the pandemic has now past its peak in England, according to Sir Liam Donaldson, the chief medical officer.

The number of deaths has increased from 27 to 36 but these have not occurred in the last week, only the investigations into whether they are related to swine flu have concluded.

A Department of Health spokesman said they were not ruling out the option of mass vaccinations at schools at this stage, but said there were currently no plans to implement such a scheme. He added that GPs administering the vaccine was still the preferred option.

- National Pandemic Flu Service, available online at www.direct.gov.uk/pandemicflu , on 0800 1 513 100 or 0800 1 513 200 (Textphone).

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