their attempts at controlling the spread the deaths. Let us monitor
their cases closely so that we can apply the lessons learned from them
to our countries.
Swine flu: Up to 160 Britons held in quarantine overseas
By Daniel Martin
Last updated at 4:59 PM on 24th July 2009
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At least 160 Britons are in quarantine worldwide because of swine flu,
the Foreign Office said today.
A spokeswoman said assistance was being given to people in China,
Singapore, India and Egypt.
Not all will be suffering from the virus. Some will have been
quarantined after being in contact with people who are.
The spokeswoman said there were likely to be other people abroad being
kept in quarantine who had not sought help from the Foreign Office.
It comes as experts said children under the age of 14 have become
'super-spreaders' of the virus, leaving England battling a raging
Masked Italian students arrive at Stansted as news breaks that swine
flu cases in England doubles in a week to 100,000
Prepared: Masked Italian students arrive at Stansted as news breaks
that swine flu cases in England doubles in a week to 100,000
The number of swine flu cases has doubled in a week to 100,000 with
most of the new cases among children below 14 years old, according to
A third of those who have died from the virus have been under 15 and
20 per cent of those who have ended up in hospital were under the age
The NHS is now planning for up to 65,000 deaths from swine flu, with
30 per cent of the population - and 50 per cent of children - catching
Meanwhile, a British family on holiday in Bodrum, Turkey, have been
put in quarantine in hospital after a six-year-old boy was diagnosed
with the virus.
The child, who has not been named, was spotted after thermal cameras
showed he was extraordinarily hot and tests later found he had swine
Head doctor at the 75th State Hospital Dr Levent Ozbek said: 'After
further investigations and treatment, the family will be our guests in
the hospital where all necessary treatment is given to the patients.'
The Health Protection Agency yesterday said for the first time that
the disease was probably at epidemic levels - or one in 500 people
reporting flu-like illness.
It makes it the most virulent flu outbreak since the winter of
1999/2000, when 21,000 lost their lives.
Officials have also warned that a third of those who have died so far
had no serious underlying health problems.
Such is the level of concern that the new National Flu Pandemic
Service website crashed within minutes of going live after receiving
2,600 hits a second, or 9.3million an hour.
The dramatic news emerged as:
* Universities warned campuses may have to close in the autumn if
the epidemic gets worse;
* GPs started to cancel summer holidays to deal with extra cases
and call in temporary staff to cover for sick colleagues;
* Small businesses appealed for extra help over fears they would
be driven to the wall through absences and swine flu sickies.
Workers at one of the 19 National Pandemic Flu Service call centres
answer calls from people concerned about swine flu
Alarm: Workers at one of the 19 National Pandemic Flu Service call
centres answer calls from people concerned about swine flu
The National Pandemic Flu Service website crashed within minutes of
going live after receiving 2,600 hits a second
Emergency website: The National Pandemic Flu Service website crashed
within minutes of going live after receiving 2,600 hits a second
Chief medical officer Sir Liam Donaldson coined the phrase 'super-
spreaders' to describe children under 14.
He said yesterday that 26 people in England and four in Scotland are
believed to have died.
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The figure is no different from last week because further
investigations have revealed that some who were listed at that time
had not actually died from the virus.
But for the first time, Sir Liam was able to announce that around 16
per cent of those who had swine flu on their death certificates were
perfectly healthy and were on no medication.
A further 17 per cent had only mild and moderate conditions such as
high blood pressure and diabetes.
The rest had serious health problems undermining their immune systems,
such as leukaemia.
A man walks in to a NHS walk-in-center in London, Britain, 21 July
Cause for concern: Chief medical officer Sir Liam Donaldson said
around 16 per cent of those who died of swine flu were perfectly
In an attempt to reassure the public, Sir Liam said: 'The bad thing
would be if 100 per cent of the deaths were healthy people. The vast
majority of people, even with an underlying condition, will get the
flu and recover well.'
The Health Protection Agency said that, to all intents and purposes,
England is in the grip of a swine flu epidemic.
Justin McCracken, chief executive of the HPA, said: 'The view is that
we are there or thereabouts. On the evidence of people going to their
GPs, it is on the border of what we would expect in an epidemic.'
Professor Hugh Pennington, a bacteriologist at Aberdeen University,
said: 'I have seen cases myself of people dying from flu who are
'The fact that younger people are being hit is similar to previous
pandemics. Social factors obviously play a part - young people hang
around each other more - but the reasons are not known.'
The HPA estimates that 100,000 came down with swine flu last week -
compared with 55,000 the previous week. It said the number could even
be as high as 140,000. Some 840 are in hospital, including 63 in
A woman receives the swine flu vaccine in Adelaide, Australia, where
the strain is believed to have originated
World's first trials: A woman receives the swine flu vaccine in
Adelaide, Australia, where the 1999/2000 strain is believed to have
swine flu vaccine
Soaring profits: GlaxoSmithKline has been accused of profiteering over
its H1N1 vaccine, which is expected to cost £6 a jab
The National Pandemic Flu Service website went down only three minutes
after being launched at 3pm.
A message said: 'The service is currently very busy and cannot deal
with your request at this time. Please try again in a little while.'
The site was down for at least two hours, but later appeared to be
The Tories claimed the problems were because it had been set up too
late and that it should have been launched as a global pandemic was
declared weeks ago.
Health spokesman Mark Simmonds said: 'People couldn't access the
information. They couldn't discover themselves whether they had the
appropriate symptoms that would give them the opportunity to get
But Sir Liam Donaldson blamed the crash on people's curiosity rather
than desperation of those fearing they had the virus.
'We would estimate around the very, very most that there were 20,000
out there when the flu line was switched on who might have had genuine
'Nine million people decided to visit the site because there was such
intense media interest in this story and many, many more people were
aware of it than if it had moved into use in a routine way.'
Those who suspect they have swine flu log on to the site -
www.direct.gov.uk/pandemic flu - and go through an online checklist
ticking the boxes that correspond with their symptoms.
If the system diagnoses them with the virus they are given a special
'voucher number' that enables them to go along to their nearest
pharmacy or surgery to collect their Tamiflu.
Universities yesterday revealed they could be forced to remain closed
in the autumn to limit the spread of swine flu.
Almost two million students will be converging on universities from
September when the epidemic is expected to peak.
Departments could be closed, freshers' activities cancelled, or
students could even be quarantined.
Meanwhile, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have recommended the
suspension of the sharing of the chalice at communion.
They have written to bishops in the Church of England setting out the
measures following official advice not to share 'common vessels' for
food or drink.
Italy, which has had no deaths from swine flu, yesterday added Britain
to a list of travel trouble spots - which also includes Iran and
Mahood swine flu cartoon
Asked why the UK seemed to be particularly badly affected compared
with the rest of Europe, Sir Liam said it could be that Britain had
better surveillance systems.
But in a sign that the NHS is under strain, companies which provide
cover when GPs and practice nurses go off sick have reported a massive
surge in demand.
Steve Field, chairman of the Royal College of GPs, said: 'Swine flu is
getting very busy all over the country. It is going up in all parts of
'GPs are at full stretch - both answering phones but also seeing
patients in surgery, all at a time when historically people are going
on holiday. We are hearing that doctors are cancelling their holidays
to do clinical work.'
Some 22,000 died in Britain's last flu epidemic in 1999-2000 - a death
rate ten times higher than the average for a normal winter.
The strain, believed to have originated in Australia, crippled the
NHS. At the epidemic's peak there were as few as 11 intensive care
beds available across the country.
Yesterday, a pregnant Scottish woman critically ill with swine flu was
transferred to Sweden for a rare treatment after suffering lung
The procedure involved circulating the patient's blood outside the
body and adding oxygen to it artificially. The UK has a unit for such
treatment but all five beds are being used.
The number for the National Pandemic Flu Service for England is 0800
1513 100 and the website address www.direct.gov.uk/pandemicflu