'Too late' to contain swine flu in Birmingham

Officials have warned that Birmingham is no longer capable of containing the swine flu outbreak as the total number of cases across the UK climbed above 1,600.

The city council's health scrutiny committee heard that health bosses wanted to move towards a "mitigation" phase in their fight against the virus, which had become too widespread to suppress. The West Midlands is the site of more than half of all cases in England, with 567 confirmed.

Sean Connolly, the city's director of resources, said: "Containment is too late in Birmingham. We are planning for the mitigation phase. The Department of Health is listening to what we are saying. I would be very surprised if the DoH didn't look at our circumstances and use a different response."

The severity of the outbreak in the West Midlands has been blamed on the virus spreading among children at Welford Primary School in the Handsworth area of Birmingham. A further 11 cases were confirmed in England yesterday, with about half of those in the West Midlands. The new cases included 19 in London and 15 in the South-east.

Three new cases were also confirmed in Northern Ireland and another 22 in Scotland, taking the UK total to 1,607.