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Flu deaths rise as new cases fall

The number of deaths from flu has risen sharply but new flu-related cases are on the decline, new UK figures show.

Some 254 people have died from flu since September, up from 112 last week, with 195 of the 214 cases for which information is available related to the H1N1 strain.

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) insisted that despite the steep rise in deaths, flu rates are on the decrease, with GPs and NHS Direct reporting a fall in the number of flu-related cases they are dealing with.

There are 418 patients in critical care with suspected flu, compared with 661 last week, including 20 cases involving under-fives, six cases among those aged between five and 15, 344 cases among 16-64-year-olds and 48 cases affecting over-65s.

Of the 210 cases where information was available on age, seven deaths were of children under five, 11 of patients aged 5-14, 137 of those aged 15-64, and 55 of those aged 65 or over.

Professor John Watson, the HPA's head of respiratory diseases, said the rates of flu were "very much in line" with what was expected.

Copyright © Press Association 2011

Health Protection Agency