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Reassurance over swine flu second wave

PUBLISHED: 12:00 19 August 2009 | UPDATED: 11:35 06 July 2010

In the past two weeks cases of swine flu have dropped dramatically after the first wave of the virus struck thousands in East Anglia in June and July.

In the past two weeks cases of swine flu have dropped dramatically after the first wave of the virus struck thousands in East Anglia in June and July.

Dan Grimmer

Health bosses in the region have moved to reassure members of the public today about swine flu - saying they are using this “quiet” period to ensure measures are fully in place for when the second expected wave occurs.

Health bosses in the region have moved to reassure members of the public today about swine flu - saying they are using this “quiet” period to ensure measures are fully in place for when the second expected wave occurs.

In the past two weeks cases of swine flu have dropped dramatically after the first wave of the virus struck thousands in East Anglia in June and July.

But NHS East of England said they have been working with health professionals across the region to make sure they are prepared for when an expected 15pc of the population contract the virus.

While health bosses know there will be a second wave it is unsure exactly when, with predictions it will strike between September - when schools and universities resume - and November this year.

Dr Linda Sheridan, director of flu resilience at NHS East of England, said there was no danger of the region running out of antiviral drugs as we are “practically swimming in Tamiflu”.

“We have been working round the clock during this quieter few weeks to make sure we are fully prepared for the next wave,” she said. “I would say we are looking at about 600,000 to 700,000 people in the East of England getting the virus, which is about 15pc.

“The worst possible scenario is 30pc but we do not think it will be anywhere near this. We have plenty of Tamiflu with little chance of it running out.

“We are working with all health professionals, GP practices and hospitals to ensure patients suffer as little as possible. In the majority of cases the virus will be mild with symptoms that will pass in a few days.”

Mrs Sheridan said NHS East of England was “in line” with the national protocol in terms of vaccinations, with priority groups realistically being vaccinated during October. These include front line health staff and people with underlying illnesses such as lung and heart disease, respiratory problems and damaged immune systems.

The majority of people will be inoculated between January and June next year. So far there has been three deaths in the region out of a suspected 60,000 cases and Mrs Sheridan predicts this figure will stay the same in the coming months.

NHS East of England has a dedicated incident room where all communication and updates about the virus are handled and health bosses receive regular updates and advice from the Department of Health.

Mrs Sheridan said: “It is important that people know we are expecting a second wave, but they should not panic about this because we are on top of it and prepared.”

Latest figures show 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 just a 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, dropping to 10,607 last week.

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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