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Swine flu cases rocket 300 per cent in one week

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  • Swine flu cases rocket 300 per cent in one week

    Swine flu cases rocket 300 per cent in one week

    The number of swine flu cases across Kent has soared by more than 300 per cent in the past week as the Government said the virus could no longer be contained.

    Public health experts from the primary care trusts (PCTs) said a national flu line would be in place within two weeks to ensure the county?s GPs do not get overwhelmed by patients with the H1N1 virus.

    Andy Burnham, the Secretary of State for Health, announced on Thursday the emergency response would now move into ?treatment phase? following a dramatic increase in cases across the country.

    He said that swine flu is spreading so rapidly that if it continues at its current rate there could be 100,000 new cases a day by the end of next month.

    Dr Jackie Spiby, director of health improvement at NHS West Kent, told Kent on Sunday on Friday that there were ?well over 100 cases? across the county. The week before there were only 26 confirmed cases in Kent.

    Instead of being swabbed and tested for swine flu, suspected cases will be diagnosed by their GP and people who have been in close contact with patients who test positive will no longer be given anti-viral treatment.

    All swine flu cases will no longer be counted in a rolling total. On Thursday, the last official breakdown of figures across the Kent showed there were 86 cases in total, with 51 in east Kent, 11 in Medway and 24 in west Kent.

    PCTs in Kent have already set up anti-viral collection points so ?flu friends? can pick up treatment for the person with the virus.

    Dr Spiby said: ?The majority of collection points are at pharmacies because they are most accessible. We have a total of 40 in west Kent at the moment and the whole set will be up and running by next week.?

    She said the PCT was working closely with GP surgeries that say they can cope with cases at the moment.

    Andrew Scott-Clark, director of public health at NHS Eastern and Coastal Kent, said: ?We are expecting that individual GP practices should be able to cope.

    ?But this is an interim solution before the national flu line, which should be up and running the week after next.?

    Once the flu line has been set up, people who think they have swine flu will be asked to use it instead of calling their GP.

    Mr Scott-Clark said: ?The original strategy was to keep people away from GP surgeries as much as possible so that they can get on with normal business.

    ?So this is the interim solution before flu line is up and running. In future weeks people should go direct to the flu line.?

    Asked if there was a danger that staffing levels at hospitals would be badly affected if lots of doctors and nurses caught the flu, he said: ?All organisations have business continuity plans for this.

    ?Staff members who have close contact with people with suspected or known flu would be wearing protective clothing. We are protecting our own staff as much as possible?

    The World Health Organisation last month announced swine flu was the first global pandemic in 41 years. The NHS has long been planning for an outbreak and has stockpiles of anti-virals.

    Mr Scott-Clark said hospital trusts had worked out how many staff were needed to keep various departments open and would prioritise A&E and emergency surgery if necessary.

    ?If it gets too many numbers all critically ill, which we do not expect because the disease is mild in the majority of cases, there are plans depending on the level of need,? he said.

    ?We all have plans in place to deal with not only this beginning of the treatment phase but also for when we get more cases.

    ?What we do not know is how many people will be seriously ill and we will manage that on a day-to-day basis.

    ?We do that every winter with winter planning, this is not of the ordinary in the sense we do this every winter.?

    On Friday a 19-year-old man became the fourth person in the UK with swine flu to die. So far the fatal cases have all had serious underlying health problems.

    The majority of cases have been mild and cases get better in about seven days.

    But there are concerns the virus could become more virulent. Dr Spiby said: ?We know that in previous pandemics it has mutated.

    ?But we have no evidence of that from other countries that are already in their winter phase. The worry is that when we get to winter with people staying indoors more, and the kids back at schools, the numbers will rise.

    ?There is no evidence that it will mutate and get worse at this point.?

    The virus is continuing to affect younger people. Five pupils at St Andrew?s School in Rochester tested positive for swine flu this week.

    On Friday, eight students with swine flu, aged between 16 and 18, from the private Sevenoaks School were due to fly home from Romania.

    The pupils were part of a group of 19, who had arrived in the north east city of Iasi last Thursday as part of an annual exchange programme to work with disabled children.

    But after they became ill they were put in isolation at Iasi?s Hospital for Infectious Diseases. The school did not say whether it is believed they caught the virus in the UK or in Romania, which only has 41 cases of the virus.

    The Health Protection Agency has advised schools to stay open and monitor the situation daily.

    Mr Scott-Clark added: ?What we are advising people to do if they think they have flu is to go home and isolate themselves, which is the same as before.

    ?There is a NHS website that has guidance for individuals to assess themselves to whether they have got swine flu or not.

    ?People without access to that or who have answered all the questions and believe they have swine flu should call their GP.?

    If you have flu-like symptoms go to or call your GP.

  • #2
    Re: Swine flu cases rocket 300 per cent in one week

    "... people who have been in close contact with patients who test positive will no longer be given anti-viral treatment."

    It would be interesting to apure why is that?

    UK have Tamiflu and Relenza, so why not give them an precautional dose:

    - because of low Relenza quantity depots and to slow Tamiflu insurging resistance;
    - there is an resistant strain already roaming?

    Official statements about the decision taken?


    • #3
      Re: Swine flu cases rocket 300 per cent in one week

      The original article refers to Kent, in the South-East of England.

      There's another article with the same content, for Wales, and quoting the Health Minister:

      Only some will now receive anti-viral swine flu drugs
      Jul 3 2009 by Madeleine Brindley, Western Mail

      ANTI-FLU drugs will no longer be handed out in Wales in a bid to prevent swine flu spreading, as experts have admitted they can no longer contain the virus.

      The UK yesterday moved to the treatment phase of the disease amid warnings 100,000 people could be diagnosed a day by the end of August.

      The move does not mean that the swine flu virus has become more severe, but it does change the way the pandemic will be dealt with.

      And it will affect who is offered anti-viral drugs, which can limit the severity and duration of flu.

      The drugs, which can also help prevent the onset of flu symptoms, will no longer be given to people who have been in close contact with someone diagnosed with swine flu.

      The decision to abandon containment came as a further four laboratory-confirmed cases and 11 more clinically-presumed cases were announced in Wales.

      All are linked to cases elsewhere in the UK and abroad, including Spain, Mexico and the US.

      Health Minister Edwina Hart said, in a letter to AMs, ?In parts of England and Scotland, where the onset of swine flu has been greatest, services on the ground are already operating on the basis of treatment rather than containment.

      ?Scientific advice now expects to see a further rapid rise in the number of cases across the UK, therefore we have now moved to the treatment phase.?

      Cases of swine flu in Wales have risen rapidly in the space of a week ? there were 12 last Friday, last night there were 53, including the 19 clinically-presumed cases.

      There is no evidence of community transmission in Wales at present, compared to England and Scotland.

      There are now more than 6,100 cases of swine flu in England and a further 1,200 in Scotland. Three deaths have been linked to the virus.

      English Health Secretary Andy Burnham yesterday said there would be a huge daily rise in new cases.

      ?Cases are doubling every week and on this trend we could see over 100,000 cases per day by the end of August,? he said. ?The pressure on the system is such that it is the right time to take this step.?

      The move to the treatment phase will mean that a diagnosis of swine flu will no longer depend on a laboratory test, instead it will rely on clinical symptoms.

      Mrs Hart added: ?As far as anti- virals are concerned, this will mean focusing treatment on at-risk groups, that is to say on those more susceptible to developing more serious illness or complications.

      ?These are all the groups at risk from seasonal influenza, plus pregnant women and children under five.

      ?Guidance will be issued to doctors to ensure that people in these groups will have access to anti-virals within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms.

      ?For individuals outside these high-risk groups, it will be a matter of clinical judgement to decide whether anti-virals should be prescribed, with rapid access to anti-virals for all those who need them.?

      There are three stages of swine flu management ? containment, outbreak management and treatment.

      The full details of the treatment phase are still being worked out but tracing all people who may have been exposed to swine flu will end and pressure on GP services is expected to ease as more people receive a diagnosis via other routes.

      She added: ?Although we have moved to a new phase in our response to this virus, the message to the public remains the same.

      ?Keep practising good respiratory and hand hygiene to reduce the chances of catching or spreading the virus. If you develop flu-like symptoms, stay at home and seek advice.?v