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Fewer people contracting swine flu

The number of people contracting swine flu across England has dropped, with around 9,000 new cases of the virus being identified in the country last week - down 11,000 from the week before.

Overall, the death toll for cases linked to the virus now stands at 298, which is an increase from the previous week's 283.

The number of people with swine flu being treated in hospital has decreased from 636 down to 523 - of which 113 are currently being treated in intensive care.

Three times as many front-line health workers have now received the swine flu jab as got the seasonal flu vaccine last year, with 343,000 saying yes to it.

Just over 100,000 pregnant women have also been vaccinated, as have around three million people in priority groups, such as those with asthma, diabetes and heart disease.

Sir Liam Donaldson, the Government's Chief Medical Officer, said he believed the pandemic flu plans had worked "extremely well" and he was very pleased with how the NHS had risen to the challenge.

He said the biggest fear had been that the NHS would be overwhelmed, but that had not happened and the UK had been "lucky with the virus".

He said the country had been able to "fight for every life" when it came to dealing with swine flu and, if just one family had been spared the loss of the child or another family member at Christmas, then that was a reason for throwing his hat up in the air.

He said things had gone well so far, largely down to good planning.

Copyright © Press Association 2009