Swine flu deaths in England reach highest level
The number of confirmed deaths for the week ended November 26 were 21, three higher than the week before and two higher than the previous high a fortnight ago.
However at the same time the overall number of people catching swine flu in England fell to an estimated 46,000 new cases in the last week, 7,000 less than the week before.
There has also been a drop in the number of people in hospital, from 783 to 753.
A total of 154 of those being cared for are in intensive care.
The figures are dropping so low that the government said that it was reviewing its online and telephone flu service with a view to withdrawing it after Christmas.
Sir Liam Donaldson, the chief medical officer for England, said that the number of people who have had swine flu or died means the current pandemic is comparable with a normal winter flu season.
But he said: “If you look at the levels you would say they are comparable with a winter flu outbreak but a winter flu outbreak does not kill young people and does not take under-fives into hospital and intensive care on this scale.”
Meanwhile more than a million people at high risk from swine flu have been vaccinated, according to Government estimates.
About a million people in England and thousands more in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have received their jab in the first month of the programme.
GPs are currently vaccinating people at risk – such as those with asthma, heart disease and diabetes – before moving on to the under-fives.
The number of deaths in England now stands at 163 and the UK total stands at 242, up from 214 last week.
Sir Liam said the one million figure did not include health care workers, who have also been having the vaccine.
One million is about one in 10 of all the people in at-risk groups who are being offered the vaccine.
So far, 10 million doses of the jab have been sent out to GP surgeries, primary care trusts and acute hospitals in England.
A total of 14 million doses of the vaccine Pandemrix have been delivered to the Government, with another 2.3 million doses of Celvapan also delivered.