Sharp rise in England swine flu deaths

The latest weekly bulletin showed a sharp rise in patient deaths and the number of children being admitted to hospital.

The overall number of new cases showed a second successive weekly fall. Health officials estimate there were 55,000 new cases this week in England compared with 64,000 last week. There was a slight drop in Scotland.

The number of people who have died from swine flu in the UK has reached 214. There were 18 deaths in England last week. The figures since the start of the outbreak in May are 142 fatalities in England, 21 in Wales, 38 in Scotland and 13 in Northern Ireland.

The number of people needing hospital care for the virus is 783, down slightly from 785, in the previous week. Of those in hospital, 180 were in intensive care, up from 173 in the previous week.

The Conservative party has been pressing the government to give vaccinations to healthy children because those under the age of 16 are in one of the more vulnerable groups.

About 21% of all H1N1 deaths in the UK have been among under 14s.

So far the priority groups have included those with pre-existing medical conditions, their carers and pregnant women. Children with asthma or diabetes are already being vaccinated. Now, children aged six months to five years are to be offered the vaccination from next month.

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