Swine flu update: sufferers told to stay at home

HEALTH experts are urging vulnerable people to be vaccinated against swine flu after four people died in local hospitals.

The number of people being treated for flu symptoms at Queen’s Hospital, in Rom Valley Way, Romford, however, has fallen from 20 last week to 12.

Two people remain in a serious condition in a high dependency unit.

At King George Hospital, in Goodmayes, ten people have been hospitalised with suspected flu in the past week, with one seriously ill.

The majority of patients have the H1N1 swine flu strain but of the four people who died with flu-like symptoms, it was not the cause of death in any of the cases.

Pregnant women, the elderly or anyone with underlying health issues, such as asthma, are advised to get in touch with their GPs for flu jabs.

A Barking, Havering and Redbridge Trust spokesman said: “We have treated some seriously ill people.

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“Some people have died but swine flu was not the cause of death. They unfortunately had underlying health issues, but it does bring home the importance of getting the message out about hand hygiene and that at-risk people should see their GP for a flu jab.”

Figures published last week by the Health Protection Agency show 50 people have died of the virus this winter.

All but four were under the age of 65 and five were under the age of five. The majority, 45, died of the H1N1 swine flu strain.

More than half of those who have died this winter were classed at being in the clinical “at-risk” group for vaccination but fewer than five had been given a flu jab.

Now NHS Outer North East London is calling on people who think they have flu to stay at home.

A spokesman said: “If you experience a sudden fever, cough or shortness of breath or have a headache, sore throat, tiredness, aching muscles, chills, sneezing, runny nose or loss of appetite, you may have flu.

“For most people this is a mild illness and you should start to feel better after a few days without needing to go to your GP, walk-in centre/polyclinic or A&E.

“Help yourself and others by not spreading the virus.

“If you have not had your seasonal flu vaccine and are pregnant, very young, over 65, or have a long-term condition such as asthma or diabetes, then please contact your GP practice.”

You can contact NHS Direct on: 0845 4647.