Britain to Launch National Pandemic Flu Service

The service, a Web site and call centers to help Britons decide whether or not they have the H1N1 flu, will be available this week, the national health secretary announced Monday.

Britain’s government announced a National Pandemic Flu Service will be launched this week. Consisting of a Web site and call centers, the service will help Britons who are experiencing flu symptoms figure out whether they have the H1N1 disease. Those who do will be given an authorization number to be used by a friend or relative who is not sick and picks up antiviral medications from a local collection point.

The government announced numbers for England, Scotland, and Wales on Monday. “It is particularly important for people with chronic lung, kidney or heart disease, under fives, over 65s and pregnant women to use the new service as soon as they have symptoms and to keep in touch with their GP [general practitioner],” the government advised. “Parents with children under one year should call their GP as soon as possible if their child has symptoms.”

The Health Protection Agency estimates more than 55,000 new cases of swine flu were recorded in Britain last week, with individuals up to age 14 being the group most affected. While most cases are mild, as in the United States, there have been 26 deaths in England and three in Scotland of people who have been confirmed with H1N1.

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