Belfast Telegraph

13 swine flu deaths 'not concern'

There have been 13 deaths involving swine flu in Northern Ireland since November, figures have shown.

Nine of those who died while suffering from the H1N1 virus had underlying health conditions, the Public Health Agency added.

Those who died ranged from children to a 67-year-old.

Director of public health Dr Carolyn Harper said: "The data shows that respiratory infections remain within the normal range that we would expect to see for this time of year. The public should therefore not be unduly concerned.

"We see flu every year and, at this stage, the trend in deaths is no different from normal flu seasons and is certainly lower than what we saw during the pandemic."

Across the UK 50 deaths have been reported as a result of the flu virus. Of those, 45 died with swine flu and five with another strain.

Dr Harper said the figures had been released because of the level of public interest. However she stressed that most people recover from the virus.

The Government has urged people in at-risk groups, including pregnant women, to get a flu jab after it was confirmed that the number of cases of swine flu had increased from 136 to 185 in the last week of 2010.

Intensive care units have been coping with increased numbers in recent days because of flu-type illnesses.

Health Minister Michael McGimpsey said he had been informed by the health board that it will increase the number of critical care beds.Up to 40 extra beds will be made available for patients and there is scope to provide more if necessary.

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