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No evidence for winter flu crisis

England's interim chief medical officer has dismissed claims by senior GPs that a winter flu crisis is looming in Britain.

Professor Dame Sally Davies said there was "no evidence as yet" that the winter flu outbreak is worse than usual, and insisted that the number of people visiting their GP with the virus was "bang in the range" for the season.

Lower immunisation rates have prompted the British Medical Association (BMA) to warn that a normal seasonal flu outbreak could prove much more serious this year.

Fewer patients in at-risk groups - including pregnant women and those with diabetes and heart disease - are coming forward for the seasonal flu jab, which also protects against swine flu.

Professor Davies admitted that she would have preferred ministers not to axe the annual flu jab publicity campaign as part of spending cuts, but said the rise in cases was being carefully monitored.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, she said that as a doctor, she did not like "leaving things to chance".

Professor Davies urged people to get the jab but added: "We have no evidence as yet that it is worse than usual. The figures are as they were the year before the pandemic.

"But there are two differences: the first is that the week before it was quite low so it took off last week so we are clearly following it carefully; and the other is that we are getting quite a lot of people going into hospital because they are sick who are under 65 and that is not a usual thing at this time of year."

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