England

Flu cases in critical care decrease in North West

The number of people being treated for flu in critical care wards of hospitals in the north west of England has gone down, latest figures show.

The figure, which stood at 108 last week, has now dropped to 85, NHS North West said.

There are also fewer suspected cases of flu, with 29 cases yet to be confirmed - down from 55 last week.

All hospitals in the region have put plans in place to increase the number of critical care beds if necessary.

'Difficult to diagnose'

Greater Manchester has seen the biggest decrease, with 30 cases confirmed, down from 47. There are also 12 suspected cases in critical care.

NHS North West said in Cheshire and Merseyside, the number of confirmed cases remained at 35, plus 14 suspected cases.

In Cumbria and Lancashire, the number of cases dropped from 26 to 20, plus three suspected cases.

A spokesperson for NHS North West said: "It is important that people who are in at risk groups get a flu jab.

"If you are an otherwise healthy adult or child self-treat - but contact your GP for advice if you don't get better or your condition suddenly gets worse.

"If you are a parent or carer for a child aged under five and you think they might have flu, contact your GP for advice, as flu can be difficult to diagnose in young children."

The Health Protect Agency (HPA) said the figures should be interpreted with caution as data collected over the Christmas and New Year period, when schools and GP surgeries were closed, is still being monitored.

In the past week, the HPA has confirmed a further 62 deaths from flu across the UK, bringing the total number since the flu season began in October this year to 112.

It said most of these deaths did not occur in the past week - a substantial number occurred in December, but due to Christmas and New Year they have only been confirmed this week.

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