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New fears that swine flu cases could hit 100,000 a day

PUBLISHED: 07:58 03 July 2009 | UPDATED: 10:33 06 July 2010

Health secretary Andy Burnham yesterday warned that swine flu cases could rise to more than 100,000 a day by the end of August as it emerged a Norfolk County Council officer was being treated for the condition.

Health secretary Andy Burnham yesterday warned that swine flu cases could rise to more than 100,000 a day by the end of August as it emerged a Norfolk County Council officer was being treated for the condition.

It came as Mr Burnham said yesterday the government planned to change its approach to tackling the H1N1 virus moving to a “treatment phase” as numbers soar with health chiefs locally taking the lead in diagnosing and distributing antivirals instead of the Health Protection Agency.

Mr Burnham confirmed there were now 7,447 confirmed cases of swine flu in the UK and a significant number of people had been hospitalised.

The move away from a “containment” phase was to help take the pressure off hospitals as cases soar.

In a Commons statement he said the government had signed contracts for enough vaccine to cover the whole population. Antivirals would be offered to all those who have contracted the illness with higher risk patients given priority.

“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. “As cases continue to rise we have reached the next step in our management of the disease.

“Our national focus should be on treating the increasing numbers affected by swine flu.”

“This new approach will also mean a move from the daily reported figures of laboratory confirmed cases ... to more general estimates of spread.”

Schools should not close because of individual cases but could do so if the local circumstances warranted it.

In the latest Norfolk case, the woman who works in the children's services department at County Hall, but is not believed to be a frontline official with contact with the public, was diagnosed by her GP and is currently being treated at home.

Hundreds of staff work at County Hall, but bosses insisted it was it was business as usual.

Dr John Battersby, director of public health for NHS Norfolk and Norfolk County Council, said: “A member of staff from Norfolk County Council is being treated, at home, for swine flu and they are responding well to the anti-viral medication, Tamiflu.

“Members of staff at Norfolk County Council are being advised, that should they become symptomatic, to contact NHS Direct or their GP for advice, but staff across the county council offices are at very low risk of becoming ill.”

There are currently eight confirmed cases of people with the H1N1 virus in Norfolk but the true figure is thought to be much higher.

Because of the changing approach the latest case has also not been officially confirmed by the Health Protection Agency, because no lab test has been carried out and she was diagnosed by her doctor.

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