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Independents' Day

Andy Burnham predicts 100,000 swine flu cases a day as outbreak 'can no longer be contained'

By Lilian Anekwe

The Government has abandoned its swine flu containment strategy and moved to a new national ‘treatment phase' after conceding the virus can no longer be held back.

Health secretary Andy Burnham told the House of Commons today the Government expects there to soon be as many as 100,000 new cases diagnosed every day.

To relieve workload pressure as the number of swine flu cases soars, GPs will no longer have to prescribe the antiviral Tamiflu to clinically diagnosed cases.

Instead, GPs should recommend patients suffering from swine flu stay at home and contact the NHS by phone, to receive a voucher allowing a friend or family member to collect it at a pharmacy or other drug collection point.

GPs still have the ability to prescribe Tamiflu to clinically diagnosed or presumed cases at their discretion, but close contacts do not qualify for antiviral treatment, and nor will lab testing be done to confirm cases.

Several ‘hotspot' cities in the UK, including London, Birmingham, Sheffield and Glasgow had already moved on from the previous containment approach to an outbreak management strategy, in an attempt to manage the rising number of cases.

But speaking to the House of Commons earlier today, Mr Burnham said: ‘Cases are doubling every week and on this trend we could see over 100,000 cases per day by the end of August.'

He defended the decision not to move to on from the containment strategy earlier, saying: ‘Our efforts during the containment phase have given us precious time to learn more about the virus.'

Experts stressed that the change in approach did not mean the pandemic is becoming more deadly. Mr Burnham also confirmed that vaccines should be available from next month, with 60m doses available by the end of next year.

Andy Burnham: predicts 100,000 cases a day as outbreak is out of control Andy Burnham: predicts 100,000 cases a day as outbreak is out of control

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