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Surgery cancelled due to flu outbreak

An increase in incidents of flu has caused one Northern Ireland health trust to cancel all non-urgent surgery at two of its hospitals, it has been announced.

The unusually high numbers of people suffering from chest pains and other symptoms, particularly the elderly, has been blamed for the Northern Trust's decision.

It said accident and emergency departments at Antrim and Causeway hospitals had reported "severe pressure", with many patients later being admitted to hospital.

"We are cancelling all non-urgent elective surgical admissions until further notice and opening an additional ward at Antrim to accept increased emergencies," it said.

The trust urged people with colds and minor conditions to consult GPs or pharmacists rather than add unnecessary pressure to an already difficult situation.

"We are also requesting that visitors do not come into hospital if they currently have any illness or infection as this could put vulnerable patients at risk," the trust said.

Last month Northern Ireland's deputy chief medical officer Dr Elizabeth Mitchell said there was a higher than expected level of flu cases.

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Northern Trust