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Britain’s flu outbreak has now killed 231 people this winter

This article was taken from: http://metro.co.uk/2018/02/01/britains-flu-outbreak-now-killed-231-people-winter-7279504/

By Harley Tamplin

The number of people to have died after contracting flu in the UK this winter has risen to 231, according to the latest figures. Public Health England said 193 flu-related deaths have been reported, while another 38 have died in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Levels of the virus remain high after aggressive strands made their way to Britain from Australia and Japan, but there are signs that the number of cases are stabilising or even decreasing. And the outbreak is less severe than at the same stage of winter in 2010/11, Public Health England (PHE) said. However, the Royal College of GPs warned that London, the Midlands and East regions had seen increases over the last week and said the virus could be ‘unpredictable’.

Richard Pebody, acting head of the respiratory diseases department at PHE, said: ‘We are continuing to see flu circulate, with signs that flu activity is stabilising. ‘We are currently seeing a mix of flu types, including the A(H3N2) strain that circulated last winter in the UK and then in Australia and flu B.’ The organisation reported a stabilisation in the GP consultation rate, a 7% reduction in the flu hospitalisation rate, and a 26% reduction in the flu intensive care admission rate last week compared to the previous week. But NHS England said cases of flu and norovirus are continuing to put a strain on accident and emergency services.

Professor Kamila Hawthorne, vice-chairwoman of the Royal College of GPs, said: ‘We have seen a decrease in the overall number of flu presentations in general practice across England which is good news, but it is only slight, and, in fact, London and the Midland and East regions have seen increases in the past week. ‘General practice is still under considerable pressure as we deal with these flu presentations in our surgeries and this latest data shows we’re still not out of winter pressures yet as the influenza virus can be very unpredictable.’ An NHS England spokesman said: ‘Raised levels of flu and norovirus cases continued to put pressure on busy hospitals and other frontline services last week. ‘And while the NHS is generally coping with ongoing winter demands, the public can continue to play their part by using NHS 111 and pharmacists for advice.’