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.

Suggested Topics
Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

    £17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

    £17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

    £17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

    Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

    £16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

    Day In a Page

    The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

    Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

    Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
    Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

    'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

    Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
    Compton Cricket Club

    Compton Cricket Club

    Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
    London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

    Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

    'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

    It helps a winner keep on winning
    Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

    Is this the future of flying?

    Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
    Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

    Isis are barbarians

    but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
    The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

    Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

    Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
    Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

    'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

    Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
    Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

    Call of the wild

    How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'