The number of estimated new swine flu cases has fallen significantly in the past week, the Health Protection Agency has announced. The consultation rate for flu-like illness in England from the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) scheme decreased to 36.0 per 100,000 in week 45 compared to 37.7 in week 44.
The main burden of illness is reported to be in those aged 4 and under. This week, the antiviral collection numbers in the National Pandemic Flu Service decreased in all age groups.
However, the HPA cautioned against reading too much into the figures, warning: ‘The recent half-term school holidays may have continued to influence the figures this week, and so it is difficult to predict future trends.’
Interpretation of data to produce estimates on the number of new cases continues to be subject to a considerable amount of uncertainty. HPA modelling gives an estimate of 64,000 new cases in England last week (range 32,000 to 140,000). This represents an 24% decrease on the previous week.
This estimate incorporates data from National Pandemic Flu Service and GP consultations.
This is further evidence that we need to begin planning a school and college based vaccination programme immediately. It may also be more beneficial if that programme is prioritised in areas where the virus has had less impact so far. The Government needs to press on with decisions and preparations without delay.
There have now been 182 deaths linked to swine flu in the UK. Confirmed global deaths reported by ECDC is 6,592. In the last 7 days, the total number of deaths reported globally has increased by 5% – the same increase as reported last week.
Source: Health Protection Agency, UK