NI Swine Flu Cases Accelerating

Swine flu, the H1N1 virus is firmly back in the news as new cases continue to rise.

A significant jump in infections recorded in Northern Ireland has seen the number of people treated for swine flu increase from 136 to 185 in the last week of 2010.

Also, the figures from the Public Health Agency (PHA) show total flu cases have increased again this week - but the level of the rise is less than previous weeks.

GPs have dealt with an increase in flu like illness over Christmas and New Year and the new PHA figures reflect this.

Currently, more than 200 people are being treated for the virus and GPs are advising patients in the high risk groups, who have not yet attended for flu vaccination, to contact their practice.

However, otherwise healthy patients with flu like symptoms can usually stay at home taking fluids and paracetamol, only contacting their GP if they developed complications such as chest pain, shortness of breath or confusion, a statement said, also noting that pregnant women are four times more at risk so that the PHA is also urging all pregnant women to get the swine flu vaccine.

Already, the number of people found to have the H1N1 swine flu virus in NI in the week before Christmas had doubled to 129 and on Tuesday the PHA revealed the number of swine flu cases in Northern Ireland has increased to over the latest 200 figure in the last week.

As a result, many operations in Northern Ireland's hospitals have been postponed for a week because of the flu outbreak and other winter illnesses with growing fears of a serious swine flu situation developing in Northern Ireland.

The Department of Health said that extra healthcare staff have been drafted in to intensive or high dependency care units at hospitals.

Across the whole of the UK, the latest figures from the Health Protection Agency show 11 more people have died from flu this winter, taking the total to 50 and of these, 45 died with swine flu and five with another strain, flu type B.

The deaths are mostly among children and young adults, with five cases in the under-fives and eight cases among those aged five to 14 and another 33 cases are in people aged 15 to 64.

See: UK Swine Flu Deaths Reach 50


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