Suffolk’s flu figures soar above national rate

SUFFOLK: The number of flu cases in the county is today 45 per cent higher than the national and regional average, shocking new figures have revealed.

GPs have seen a sharp rise in the number of patients in the last two weeks. Latest figures from the Health Protection Agency (HPA) show there were 116.9 cases per 100,000 people in the week to January 7.

The county’s figures, which have doubled in the last fortnight, are far worse than the regional (80.9 cases per 100,000) and national (80.2) rates.

The HPA said rates of between 20-70 cases per 100,000 represent normal seasonal activity, while 70-130 cases indicate above average activity. A jump to 80.9 for the east of England represents the first time the region’s numbers have leapt above the threshold for normal flu activity this season.

The agency revealed nationally the flu death toll had more than doubled a week, from 50 at the turn of the year, to 112 on January 7.

But in their weekly flu report HPA said a “substantial number” of the 62 deaths happened in December but were not confirmed until January because of the festive break.

Ipswich Hospital said it had four confirmed cases of either swine or seasonal flu but that none were in critical care.

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A spokesperson for HPA said: “These figures are not accurate assessments of confirmed cases of influenza – they are a tool to help us track the trends of influenza-like illnesses.

“Most people with flu can ‘self care’ by taking plenty of rest, drinking lots of fluids and taking over the counter pain relievers such as paracetamol. But anyone displaying severe symptoms, particularly those in vulnerable groups should contact their GP or local out-of-hours service for medical advice.”

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