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Work absence figures increase in UK following swine flu outbreak

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Absence rates have increased slightly in the UK since the widely-reported outbreak of swine flu, according to an absence management firm.

According a real-time absence database of 60,000 employees across the UK, there has been an 8.2% rise in the number of employees starting an absence related to cough, cold or flu-like symptoms.

The statistics from FirstCare show almost one (0.954) in every 1,000 employees reported a cough or flu, compared with the normal seasonal trend of 0.882 in every 1,000.

FirstCare is now asking anyone reporting flu symptoms about their recent travel patterns and who they have come into contact with.

Current trends match the initial stages of the norovirus outbreak in January 2007, according to the company.

Aaron Ross, FirstCare chief executive, said: ‘By asking a few vital questions about whether they have travelled abroad recently, and the places that they may have visited, it seems certain that we are helping to allay any fears that absentees might have. 

‘On a normal day, we do stress that it’s important to be well before you go back to work so that you don’t spread germs to colleagues, so we’ve been able to adapt very quickly to this situation.’

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