Rise in swine flu cases prompts warning of tough winter for NHS
A sharp increase in the number of patients with swine flu admitted to critical care, many of them young, was highlighted by government experts yesterday as they warned the NHS faced a tough winter ahead. The number of deaths in the UK has risen to 128, more than half of them of people aged under 45. In England the number of patients in critical care has risen to 99, the highest since the pandemic began.
But the warning came with a silver lining as revised "worst-case" assumptions for the pandemic show that up to 12 per cent of the population are expected to catch the virus, down from 30 per cent, and 1,000 people in the UK may die, down from 19,000. Children are expected to be disproportionately affected with up to one in three catching the disease.
A death toll of 1,000 would be substantially below that from ordinary seasonal flu, which has ranged from 4,000 to 8,000 in recent years, and rose to 35,000 in the last major epidemic in 1989. However, the progress of swine flu was giving concern because of the very severe illness it caused in some people, especially the young.
Sir Liam Donaldson, the chief medical officer, giving his weekly briefing on the pandemic, said the high number of people in critical care was worrying. "We don't understand why this has happened," he said. "It looks as if the virus is having a different impact in the flu season than it had in the summer."
He said he was concerned by the high proportion of deaths in younger age groups. "It's highly unusual to have so many younger people dying. We should not pass this off as an acceptable number," he said.
The estimated number of new cases in the last week was 53,000, almost twice the previous week when new cases were estimated at 27,000. Sir Liam said: "We are starting to worry about the sustained pressure over the winter that the NHS might face. It's a very long period for the NHS to sustain its response. There is concern about the continuing pressure that the NHS is likely to be under this winter from swine flu over a sustained period of time but also from other winter illnesses including seasonal flu."
Ian Dalton, national director of NHS flu resilience, said the NHS had put an "unprecedented amount" of work into preparing for the virus and to be able to increase the number of critical care beds where necessary.
arts + entsThere were towering ideas, some scintillating performances and revelatory grooves... our writers pick out their personal highlights
elephant appealThe first 23 lots in our charity auction have now gone. But there are 22 more still up for grabs
elephant appealPrince William signs up for our charity appeal
peoplePrepare to be entranced by worms as the molecular biologist gets ready to give the Royal Institution science lectures
elephant appealSo says man jailed for cutting off dead elephant's tusks
booksWe examine the best titles for teens
voicesPeople moan that Christmas is too commercial, the spirit lost. But it is a time to over-indulge, and always has been, says DJ Taylor
scienceResearchers teach border collie to understand sentences using more than 1,000 words
booksA Christmas story in six parts
travelWill high-value tourism help the workshops of this Renaissance city?
food + drinkA trifle without custard? Surely not! Nonsense – and here’s three to finish your festive meal that prove it
Geoffrey Macnab does not like the comedian's big screen debut
Life & Style blogs
- 1 Tim Sherwood challenges Daniel Levy to set out vision for Tottenham Hotspur’s future
- 2 French pub fined €9,000 after customers returned empties to bar - because it's 'undeclared labour'
- 3 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 4 #Teamnigella: It’s the only side to be on
- 5 Christmas comes early: Justin Bieber is 'retiring from music'
- < Previous
- Next >
£40000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits : Harrington Starr: C#.NET Developer (WPF...
£45000 - £65000 per annum + London: Harrington Starr: Senior Automation QA Eng...
Negotiable: Capita Education Resourcing Permanent Team: Year 6 Teacher - Gilli...
Negotiable: Capita Education Resourcing Permanent Team: Teacher of English - S...