Welsh Assembly Government Statement On Swine Flu

Main Category: Swine Flu
Also Included In: Flu / Cold / SARS
Article Date: 05 Jul 2009

This statement updates Members on the Influenza A (H1N1) swine flu outbreak and the latest developments in Wales, across the UK and internationally.

The number of confirmed cases in Wales on 1 July stands at 30 and all are recovering or have fully recovered. There are also 8 clinically presumed cases in Wales, which means they have symptoms and were in contact with a confirmed case.

One of the new cases, confirmed last Friday was a 24 year old male physiotherapist working for the Cardiff and Vale Trust. He did not contract the virus at the hospital and is not in work. Key contacts, including 8 patients and 3 colleagues at the University Hospital of Wales have been traced. A second employee at the University Hospital was confirmed in the batch of cases announced yesterday. This case is travel related and is not connected with the previous patient. Two cases in Wales have been hospitalised and both are now recovering well.

There is still no evidence of sustained community transmission in Wales, but this is likely to change in the future in the way it has occurred in Glasgow, Birmingham and London.

In the UK there are now nearly seven thousand confirmed cases and nearly a thousand clinically presumed cases, more than double the number of cases I reported on in my written statement last week. A total of 105 cases in the UK have been hospitalised since the start of this pandemic. In most cases in the UK the virus causes a generally mild illness. A small minority of cases however have been more serious in much the same way as we can see with seasonal flu, leading to a severe illness.

A second adult person with underlying health conditions in Scotland has died and a 6-year old child, also with underlying health conditions, has died in Birmingham.

Across the globe, the situation is that over 70,000 cases have been confirmed in 116 countries (including the UK) across all continents, including over 4000 confirmed cases in Australia.

The latest reports are that there have been 311 deaths worldwide, 127 deaths have been reported in the USA and 116 in Mexico. Deaths have also been reported in Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Dominican Republic, Colombia, Argentina, Honduras, Philippines and Australia.

The number of confirmed cases across the UK is doubling every seven days, most of the new cases are as a result of community transmission. Where H1N1 takes a hold - such as in parts of Glasgow and Clydeside, Birmingham and the West Midlands and now in London - it appears to be spreading quickly. This is entirely in line with what we expect during the course of an outbreak. Infection is now so prevalent in some areas that it is no longer realistic to try to stop the spread of the disease.

H1N1 appears to be acting in a similar way to seasonal flu although affecting younger age groups, therefore most people who have the virus will be able to treat themselves at home in the same way as seasonal flu. Advice to patients can be obtained by using the Swine Flu Information website and Swine Flu information telephone line or if you need clinical advice by contacting NHS Direct or your normal in hours and out of hours GP service. We are continuing our surveillance of the disease and are observing with interest how it develops in the Southern Hemisphere during the winter season.

As the number of cases increases, there will inevitably be an impact on routine NHS work.

Providing treatment in the community will increase the workload on primary care staff. The forthcoming vaccination campaign will require sustained input from staff in the community. Staff absences through sickness may also potentially be very significant. The NHS is working to minimise the effect of the outbreak on services, but it is inevitable that there will be some disruption, and impact on planned activity, as the virus continues to spread.

I will continue to report new developments to Members on a regular basis, but daily updates are also available on the Assembly Government's webpages.

Minister for Health and Social Services