Britain announced Thursday the closure of a crisis unit set up to deal with the swine flu pandemic last year, as new cases of the virus continue to dwindle.

Britain, which was the hardest hit country in Europe by the A(H1N1) virus, will "stand down" the National Pandemic Flu Service (NPFS) from next Thursday, February 11, said Health Minister Gillian Merron

"This is being done in response to the steady reduction in the estimated number of swine flu cases in the community," she said in a written statement to lawmakers.

The move "is in line with our overall aim of ensuring the operational response is appropriate to the level of threat posed by the virus," she said, adding that, if necessary, it could be re-activated within seven days.

Britain was among the first countries hit by swine flu after it emerged in Mexico early last year, and at one point recorded more than 100,000 new cases a week as the virus was officially declared a pandemic.

Its spread slowed over the summer then briefly accelerated again in cooler autumn weather and as children returned to school in September, but then dropped off again into the winter months, and as vaccines started being used.

Last month figures put new cases of swine flu at less than 5,000 for three weeks in a row.