Swine flu infection rate continues to be steady at 1,500 cases a week

THE rate of swine flu infections in Ireland remains steady with about 1,500 cases diagnosed by GPs last week, according to latest figures released by the Department of Health.

The department’s chief medical officer, Dr Tony Holohan, said there had been no significant change in the pattern of swine flu in the population, with 37.9 cases seen for every 100,000 people.

There have been 114 people hospitalised with the virus to date, with an additional 23 admissions last week.

Sixteen people remain in hospital.

A total of 10 people have been admitted to intensive care, with one person admitted last week. Of the 10, six remain in hospital.

Eight out of 10 hospital cases are under 35 years and just under half have an underlying illness.

There was a decrease in the number of swine flu outbreaks reported by schools last week.

Dr Holohan said they were very happy with the way schools had acted to control the spread of the virus among pupils.

The Health Service Executive’s head of health protection, Dr Kevin Kelleher, said children had taken up the message about hand hygiene since they had gone back to school.

“There has been a massive change in people’s hand hygiene behaviour and it is being driven by kids,” he said.

He was also confident that third level students would be as conscientious as children. All of the colleges had plans in place to control the virus and new students were receiving information from administrators and student unions in the post.

Meanwhile, there are fears that swine flu may be on the way back in Britain after latest figures showed an increase in the number of cases since July.

There were an estimated 5,000 new infections last week, up from 3,000 the previous week.

The rise in cases was mainly seen among school age children, with six schools across Britain country reporting suspected outbreaks.

Britain’s chief medical officer Liam Donaldson said they were concerned that the increase could be the start of the next big wave they had been expecting this autumn.


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