Swine flu figures rise again

The number of suspected swine flu cases in the region has risen again, with health bosses predicting a 'more significant escalation' towards the end of October.

The number of suspected swine flu cases in the region has risen again, with health bosses predicting a "more significant escalation" towards the end of October.

New figures released by NHS East of England show that the number of unique reference numbers, which people are given when they contact the pandemic flu service, has increased, along with the number of anti-viral drugs handed out.

Across the east of England in the past week 5,090 reference numbers were given out and 3,305 anti-virals collected.

This is compared to 3,704 reference numbers issued in the week up to September 16, and 2,303 anti-virals collected.

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The number of people in hospitals in the region in connection to swine flu has also risen, from 10 to 18, and one of these is in critical care.

Dr Linda Sheridan, director of flu resilience, said: "There has been a slight increase in the numbers of anti-virals distributed this week, compared with last week.

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"This is not a large increase,

but does suggest the early stages

of a second wave and we are continuing to monitor the situation very closely.

"The NHS in this region is continuing to make preparations for a second wave of flu in the autumn. Last week we held a regional resilience exercise, which all NHS organisations in the region took part in, to test our plans to see how well they would cope with an increase in demand. This exercise was incredibly useful and showed that overall we are well prepared."

In Norfolk, 617 unique reference numbers were given out, compared to 389 the week before, and in Suffolk there were 395 numbers issued - a rise from 305.

The figures for reference numbers issued in Great Yarmouth and Waveney have also risen, from 116 to 152.

Dr John Battersby, director of public health for NHS Norfolk, said that NHS Norfolk was not being complacent about a possible second wave of the virus as, historically, pandemic outbreaks have presented a second wave some weeks to months after the first wave.

He said it was generally accepted that this second wave could, in part, be affected by the recent return to school.

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