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Flu case numbers dropped dramatically

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The number of new flu cases has nearly halved in the last week to levels below those expected for the winter flu season.

GPs in England saw the number of flu-related consultations fall from 40.7 per 100,000 people a fortnight ago to 24.1 per 100,000 last week, the Health Protection Agency said.

This is lower than the baseline figure used as a marker for the flu season in England, Wales and Scotland, which stands at 30 consultations per 100,000, and well below the peak of 124.4 per 100,000 on December 30.

The number of deaths from flu in the UK rose by 57 on the previous week, with the number of deaths since September now standing at 395, with most of these 57 deaths occurring in the last six weeks.

Swine flu has been replaced as the dominant strain by flu type B, with a few cases of flu type A also identified.

Professor John Watson, head of the respiratory diseases department at the HPA, said: “Our latest flu report shows that levels of flu activity are now below baseline levels in England, Wales and Scotland.

“However, our surveillance will continue and we will still be monitoring what is happening to both the levels of consultations for flu-like illness and testing viruses until the end of the season in May.”

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