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New swine flu figures released

England recorded an estimated 78,000 new swine flu cases in the past week, according to the Health Protection Agency.

The new figures indicate a rise from 53,000 in the preceding week, but a fall on the 100,000 cases seen at the peak of swine flu in July.

There was also a rise on the previous week in the number of people in hospital with the virus to 751, of which 157 are in intensive care.

Overall, 137 people in the UK have now died of the virus: 97 in England, seven in Wales, 25 in Scotland and eight in Northern Ireland.

Sir Liam Donaldson, the chief medical officer, said there had been a "very substantial increase in the numbers (of people) in intensive care".

"So a pattern is really emerging which has an eerie similarity to what happened in Australia in their flu season."

A quarter of people in hospital in Australia were admitted to intensive care, he said, and Britain is experiencing a similar trend.

The government announced that people at high risk from swine flu - those with conditions like heart disease, cancer, asthma, diabetes as well as pregnant women and frontline NHS staff - would hopefully receive vaccinations by mid-December.

Copyright © Press Association 2009

Health Protection Agency

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"With the sudden increase last week of over 700 deaths from swine flu, are we at the start of something really serious it has to be asked? For one thing is a certainty according to Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization, a highly virulent killer stain of swine flu/bird flu will emerge eventually. In this respect it has 100% probability based upon the past and whether it arrives this year, in the next decade or over the next 50-years, it will in due course come to pass. But it has to be stated that the drugs strategy is totally flawed and will not save 100s of millions (maybe in fact over a billion lives lost) from their eventual deaths worldwide. For the timing of the drug's strategy is far too long from the creation of an effective vaccine to manufacture, distribution and inoculation - some 9-18 months even in rich western economies. In this respect the Spanish Flu (a variant of Swine Flu) killed between 20 million and 100 million people in 1917/18 and did its lethal
worst between weeks 16 and weeks 24. If you do not believe me, just look at the present situation where it has already taken over 6 months to isolate, create a vaccine, manufacture limited supplies for only 10% of the total requirement, sparsely distribute and with limited inoculation of people numbers." - Dr David Hill, Huddersfield