Swine flu rate drops as 52-year-old dies of virus

The number of new cases of swine flu is continuing to decline, the Government said yesterday, the day another man died from the virus.

The 52-year-old, who had "significant" underlying health problems, died in Edinburgh's Western General Hospital, bringing Britain's H1N1 death toll to 66. Sir Liam Donaldson, the chief medical officer for England, said: "It still remains the case that this disease is not a killer but it can kill."

He announced that there were an estimated 5,000 new cases of swine flu in England diagnosed in the past week. That was a continued drop – the previous week there were an estimated 11,000 new cases and a month ago the rate was 110,000.

A total of 218 people are being treated in hospital in England for swine flu, 31 of them in intensive care.

Last week there were 263 in hospital, with 30 sufferers in intensive care. The first vaccinations of people in at-risk groups – such as those with asthma and diabetes – are expected to take place in October.

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