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Swine flu spreads in Birmingham

Fergus Walsh | 00:57 UK time, Thursday, 18 June 2009

A further sign of the spread of H1N1 swine flu in the UK has come with news that many patients in Birmingham who exhibit symptoms will no longer have laboratory tests to confirm the disease.

Instead, doctors will rely on clinical diagnosis (in other words, a simple physical examination). The west Midlands has just over half of all the confirmed cases of swine flu in England.

Furthermore, in the areas of significant community spread in Birmingham, antivirals will be restricted to high risk and immediate contacts and household members, rather than everyone that an infected person may have been in contact with.

This is exactly what was announced last week in Scotland regarding the outbreaks in Glasgow and Paisley.

It's entirely unsurprising, and a common-sense response once there are significant levels of transmission.

One hundred and ten further patients under investigation in England were confirmed as having swine flu through laboratory testing today, together with 22 in Scotland. This brings the official total since April to 1,784.

The real figure will be significantly higher. The vast majority have had a mild illness with no complications. There are currently six people in hospital in Scotland who have the virus.

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