Britain prepares for flu surge in fall

June 12, 2009 at 4:58 PM
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LONDON, June 12 (UPI) -- Britain is preparing now for an expected surge in swine flu cases when children return from their summer vacations, health officials said.

Millions in Britain could be infected, including an estimated 25 percent of healthcare professionals who would be needed to treat others, Department of Health officials told The Daily Telegraph in a story published Friday.

An surge in cases is expected this fall when children return to school and again after the Christmas holidays, the Telegraph reported.

Widespread illness likely would lead to mass school closures, said Neil Ferguson, a professor of outbreak analysis at London's Imperial College.

So far this year, at least 20 schools in England and Scotland have closed for up to a week because of students testing positive for the H1N1 flu strain. In all, 848 people have tested positive for the virus in Britain with 30,000 confirmed cases and 144 deaths worldwide.

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