Flu virus hits Redbridge

THIRTEEN people have been hospitalised with suspected flu in the past week, with four seriously ill.

The majority of patients – all at King George Hospital, Barley Lane, Goodmayes – have the H1N1 swine flu strain.

One patient with swine flu has died at the hospital, though it was not the cause of death.

In total, 151 people with flu-like symptoms have so far been admitted to either King George Hospital or Queen’s Hospital, Romford, this winter.

NHS Redbridge has said its stocks of flu vaccinations are at a “normal” level and there is “no pressure” on it, despite concerns of low stocks elsewhere in the country.

Even though the number of people in Redbridge with flu is lower than last winter, the number of people in the borough seriously ill due to flu is only slightly lower than last year: five.

Meanwhile, people with flu-like symptoms are being urged to stay away from under-pressure accident and emergency departments at Queen’s and King George.

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A spokesman for Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust said: “A&Es are always busy after the festive period and the additional strain of the flu outbreak is stretching services further.

“Unless people have life-threatening illness or injury, they will be seen much more quickly and appropriately elsewhere.”

Health bosses are advising people who think they have flu to stay at home, rest, drink plenty of fluids and tale over-the-counter flu remedies.

Those in the at risk group: pregnant women, those over 65, the very young or people with a long-term condition like asthma of diabetes, are also being urged to contact their GP practice for a flu vaccination if they have not already had one this winter.

To date, 50 people have died in the UK of flu.

Forty-five of these had swine flu, with the majority under 65 and five aged under five.