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Pandemic flu service set to launch

A National Pandemic Flu Service will be launched in England, Health secretary Andy Burnham has said.

The service will offer advice to people via the telephone and online in an attempt to relieve the pressure on GPs and other frontline health services.

Mr Burnham told the House of Commons that the service, which will launch by the end of the week "subject to testing", would be accompanied by a "major public information campaign" to raise awareness of the operation.

He said: "They can either answer questions online, via the new website, or ring the call centre service, where trained staff will be able to assess them over the phone."

Mr Burnham disputed claims that conflicting advice had been given to pregnant women and denied that guidance had changed since the start of the outbreak.

He said vaccines would be available from August with enough for 30 million people by the end of the year.

Mr Burnham confirmed that the virus had taken hold "around the country" and said that 55,000 new cases were reported last week, of which 652 were in hospital and 53 were in critical care.

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Department of Health