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Swine flu cases still below 5,000

The number of new swine flu cases has remained below 5,000 in England for the third week running.

Health officials have revealed there were 12.1 GP consultations per 100,000 population for flu-like illness for the week ending January 17.

The Department of Health said in its first fortnightly statistical bulletin that 211 patients are in hospital with swine flu, 62 in critical care.

New cases of swine flu fell to their lowest level over Christmas and New Year since the early stages of the disease, and dropped to below 5,000 in the first week of January.

The total number of sufferers receiving anti-viral drugs through the National Pandemic Flu Service in the last week was 6,337. This was down from 13,436 for the week ending January 5.

Vaccinations have been given to 3.7 million priority groups in England, including 132,000 pregnant women and 214,000 children aged from six months to five years old.

Sir Liam Donaldson, the government's Chief Medical Officer, said: "When the virus returns in the 2010 flu season, those who develop complications or die will be doing so from a vaccine-preventable disease. I strongly advise that those eligible for the vaccine who have not yet had it get the jab and protect themselves."

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