Be prepared for swine flu, experts urge

HEALTH bosses today urged people to find a “flu friend” as the swine virus continues its relentless surge through Suffolk.

HEALTH bosses today urged people to find a “flu friend” as the swine virus continues its relentless surge through Suffolk.

An increasing number of schools in the county are being hit by the bug, but they have been advised to stay open as the treatment strategy shifts from containment to damage limitation.

NHS Suffolk is advising people to carry on as normal, while taking steps to reduce their chances of contracting the disease.

However, one primary school in Ipswich said a number of parents had refused to take their children in yesterday after a boy was confirmed to have the illness.

Wendy James, headteacher at Murrayfield Community Primary School, said those cases would be registered as an unauthorised absence.

She added: “It does impact on the children's learning. We have got an awful lot going on at the moment so we want the children here so they can participate in the end of term.”

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Stoke by Nayland Middle School has also had a confirmed case, while pupils from St Albans High School returned to class yesterday after it was closed for a week due the bug.

Although the number of cases in the county is still relatively low, there is expected to be a sharp rise over the next few months.

As a result, it is being recommended that people find a “flu friend”.

If swine flu is confirmed by your GP, you will be given an authorisation voucher, which your flu friend - a member of your family or a friend or neighbour - can then take to the designated local antiviral collection point to get your medication.

Dr David Kanka, deputy director of public health, said: “All NHS and partner organisations in Suffolk are well-prepared to deal with increasing numbers of swine flu.

“It's important to note that the majority of cases in the UK have been mild and self-limiting.”

The development comes as an Evening Star polls reveals that more than half of respondents don't care about the virus and believe the outbreak has been massively over-hyped.

Around 26 per cent believe more should be done to protect us, while 22pc think there is nothing that can be done to stop it.

Is swine flu inevitable now? Write to Your Letters, The Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to

IF you think you have swine flu, you should:

Go online and check your symptoms at;

Call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47 or the swine flu information line on 0800 1 513 513;

If you are still concerned, you should then call your GP, who can provide a diagnosis over the phone;

You should not go to A&E if you suspect you have swine flu.

Source: NHS Suffolk