Friday, July 24, 2009

UK reports over 100,000 swine flu cases in week

Updated on : Friday, July 24, 2009

LONDON: Around 100,000 new cases of swine flu were diagnosed in Britain in the last week, officials said Thursday, as millions rushed to consult a new website to identify symptoms and order drugs.

At least 30 deaths have so far been linked to swine flu here, 26 in England and four in Scotland, according to the latest update from the Department of Health.

The figure is unchanged on the previous week. A further 840 people are in hospital in England, including 63 in intensive care, chief medical officer Liam Donaldson told reporters.

The concern felt by many over swine flu was reflected in what the government said was "unprecedented demand" for the new site, which launched at 3:00 pm (1400 GMT) and was soon receiving 2,600 hits per second or 9.3 million an hour.

The website crashed within minutes of launching, according to media reports, but appeared to be working normally late Thursday.

Donaldson accepted that the rise in new cases -- almost double last week's figure of 55,000 -- was a "substantial increase" but stressed the majority of patients suffer only mild symptoms.

He told the media many people were probably logging on to the site out of "curiosity", adding, "It will calm down and then people with genuine flu symptoms will be able to use the system and they will get their drugs quickly and efficiently."

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