Belfast Telegraph

Swine flu may be 'passed its peak'

Two people in Northern Ireland died of swine flu last week, the Public Health Agency (PHA) has said.

The number of new cases is falling and there were 41 new confirmed cases last week compared to 86 in the second week of this month.

A total of 23 people have died from swine flu, with 20 suffering from underlying health problems.

Dr Maureen McCartney, consultant in health protection at the PHA, said: "It is reassuring that the number of new flu cases per week has once again more than halved. If the current trend continues, swine flu has passed its peak."

At the end of December last year the proportion of people aged 65 or over who had received the seasonal flu vaccine was 70%, while uptake in those aged under 65 in an at risk group was 63%.

This compares with 77% uptake for pensioners and 82% in those younger but at risk for the same period last year.

By Wednesday, 12 out of 75 adult critical care patients were being treated for a flu-like illness. This is a further improvement on the position last week and no routine surgery has been cancelled in the past week due to swine flu.

Accident and emergency departments and primary care services are coping.

Department of Health senior medical officer Dr Liz Reaney said: "I would like to offer my deepest sympathies to the families of those whose deaths have been reported this week, during what is undoubtedly an extremely sad time for them.

"The further decrease in the levels of swine flu circulating in Northern Ireland is very much in keeping with the picture across the rest of the UK. However, it is still important that the public do not become complacent and maintain high standards of respiratory and hand hygiene."

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