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Independents' Day

Swine flu hotspot GPs told to stop swabbing as cases jump

By Steve Nowottny

GPs in a series of swine flu ‘hotspots' have been told to stop swabbing, contact tracing and using antivirals prophylactically as the number of cases continues to spiral.

The Health Protection Agency reported the biggest jump yet in cases today, with a further 535 laboratory-confirmed cases in England bringing the cumulative UK total to 4,250. A further 442 clinically presumed cases in England and 1,440 in Scotland have also been recorded.

In new guidance issued yesterday the Department of Health unveiled new tactics for combating the virus in outbreak areas, which include London, Birmingham and Glasgow.

In agreed ‘hotspot' areas cases of swine flu will now be determined by clinical diagnosis rather than swabbing, and swabbing will only be conducted on a small sample of cases to support the Health Protection Agency's surveillance work.

Antiviral treatment will continue to be offered to all symptomatic patients, but no longer to contacts of confirmed cases.

Dr Maureen Baker, pandemic planning lead at the RCGP, welcomed the new tactics. 'We feel they are sensible and very practical for the GPs and practices in the affected areas.'

GPs in swine flu hotspots told to stop swabbing

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