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Swine flu cases fall by a quarter

By Steve Nowottny

The number of estimated new swine flu cases has fallen significantly in the past week, the Health Protection Agency has announced.

The latest figures show there have been an estimated 64,000 new cases in England over the past week, a 24% decrease from the previous week.

The consultation rate for flu-like illness in England, recorded by the RCGP, also fell, from 37.7 per 100,000 in week 44 to 36.0 per 100,000 in week 45. The main burden of illness is reported to be in those aged 4 and under.

However, the HPA cautioned against reading too much into the figures, warning: 'The recent half-term school holidays may have continued to influence the figures this week, and so it is difficult to predict future trends.'

In the wake of the latest figures, shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley reiterated his call for the swine flu vaccination programme to be extended to schools.

'The drop in the number of new swine flu cases during half-term appears to point to the role that schools play in spreading the H1N1 virus,' he said.

'This is further evidence that we need to begin planning a school and college based vaccination programme immediately. It may also be more beneficial if that programme is prioritised in areas where the virus has had less impact so far. The Government needs to press on with decisions and preparations without delay.'

There have now been 182 deaths linked to swine flu in the UK.

Swine flu cases have fallen by a quarter over the past week Swine flu cases have fallen by a quarter over the past week

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