Just TWO areas of the UK are free from Aussie flu


Just two places remain uninfected with the life-threatening ‘Aussie flu’ virus as it rapidly spreads across the UK, plunging hospitals into chaos.

Only the City of London and Ilford have reported zero cases, according to the website Flusurvey.org.uk.

In the past 24 hours, the previously ‘untouched regions’ Brecon and Telford have all reported cases of the dangerous H3N2 strain of Influenza A. 

Perthsire, Inverness, Preston, Glasgow and Midlothian were struck over the weekend.

The ‘sign of peace’ handshake has even been banned across churches in Northern Ireland due to the risk of infection.  

GP surgeries have been overwhelmed with the influx of patients amid the winter flu epidemic, made worse by the aggressive flu strain that rocked Australia.

Doctors are cancelling holidays and working late into the night to try to manage the demand after being told to keep patients out of hospitals as the NHS struggles to cope.

The soaring cases, which jumped by 48 per cent over the space of a week, has been blamed for adding extra pressure onto an already stretched health service.

Bosses made the unprecedented decision to cancel 55,000 operations to cope with the crisis as the NHS begins to buckle. 

Only Ilford and the City of London have reported zero cases of the Aussie flu virus, compared to many more regions being free of the condition last Friday

Only Ilford and the City of London have reported zero cases of the Aussie flu virus, compared to many more regions being free of the condition last Friday

Only Ilford and the City of London have reported zero cases of the Aussie flu virus, compared to many more regions being free of the condition last Friday

The soaring cases, which jumped by 48 per cent over the space of a week, has been blamed for adding extra pressure  onto an already stretched health service (stock)

The soaring cases, which jumped by 48 per cent over the space of a week, has been blamed for adding extra pressure  onto an already stretched health service (stock)

The soaring cases, which jumped by 48 per cent over the space of a week, has been blamed for adding extra pressure  onto an already stretched health service (stock)

WHERE CAN YOU GET THE FLU JAB?

Flu can cause pneumonia; inflammation of the heart, brain or muscle; and kidney failure.

Anybody with symptoms can combat the spread of flu by staying indoors, away from other people. Tissues should be used to cover the mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. They should be disposed of immediately afterward and hands should be washed thoroughly.

People most at risk of serious illness or death if they get flu are offered the vaccine on the NHS. Ideally you should have this before the end of December, when flu peaks (it takes around two weeks after the jab for antibodies to develop completely).

At-risk groups include anyone aged 65 and over, people living in long-stay residential care homes, carers and pregnant women.

The vaccine is also offered to anyone aged six months to 65 years with certain conditions, such as diabetes, and is available via your GP’s surgery.

All children aged two to 11 (on August 31, 2017) are also offered the vaccine as a nasal spray. The UK introduced the child vaccination programme in 2013. Last year, the vaccine had 66 per cent effectiveness. Australia does not have a similar programme.

If you don’t qualify to have the jab on the NHS, you can pay to get it at a pharmacy.

Well Pharmacy charges £9 to £14 (depending on the number of strains in the vaccine), Superdrug from £9.99, Lloyds Pharmacy £10, Boots £12.99 and Tesco £9.

Older children who fall outside the NHS scheme can get the nasal spray vaccine from some pharmacies such as Well (£23 for those aged between two and 18; this may involve a second dose at least four weeks later for another £23) and the injection for those 12 and over for £9.

Boots offers the jab to those aged 16 and over at £12.99. Tesco offers it to those 12 and over at £9. 

‘Sign of peace is suspended’ 

A statement form the office of Bishop Noel Treanor said: ‘The customary sign of peace handshake exchanged during mass is suspended until the risk of infection is significantly reduced.

‘Other provisions will be made for those who suffer from a coeliac condition, such as separate chalices.’  

In County Cork, strict visiting restrictions have been rolled out across Cork University Hospital, Mercy University Hospital and Bantry General Hospital. 

In a bid to halt it spreading, Cork University Hospital announced that it is banning all visitors with immediate effect.

A hospital spokesman said: ‘In relation to patients in the Intensive Treatment Unit and the Paediatric Ward and at the discretion of the Ward Manager only, it is necessary to restrict visitors to one person per patient.’

UFC fighter Conor McGregor, pictured with his baby boy Conor Jr, was among those struck down by the bug during the festive period

UFC fighter Conor McGregor, pictured with his baby boy Conor Jr, was among those struck down by the bug during the festive period

UFC fighter Conor McGregor, pictured with his baby boy Conor Jr, was among those struck down by the bug during the festive period

Fears of fatalities growing 

The NHS is braced for one of the worst flu seasons in 50 years after a surge in infections in the UK, with hotspots being Plymouth, Doncaster and Belfast.   

Plymouth has been hit the hardest, with 25 new cases in the past three weeks, according to Public Health England figures. 

At least 1,649 people have been struck down by the potentially deadly strain in England and Wales within a week over the Christmas period. 

A further 112 patients were admitted to non-emergency hospital wards – an increase from a mere five the week before.

Some 17 people in England and Wales were admitted to intensive care in the past few weeks, according to a government report.

Fears of fatalities have been growing after the lethal virus claimed its first victims in Ireland.

Experts fear the virulent flu strain could prove as deadly to humanity as the Hong Kong flu in 1968, which killed one million people.

Certain NHS Trusts have cancelled non-urgent operations for the month to focus on flu

Certain NHS Trusts have cancelled non-urgent operations for the month to focus on flu

It comes as health officials have warned a flu jab that has already been dished out to thousands of patients is ineffective against a prominent strain

It comes as health officials have warned a flu jab that has already been dished out to thousands of patients is ineffective against a prominent strain

Cases of the dangerous new H3N2 strain of Influenza A are pushing the NHS to its limit, with 55,000 operations being cancelled as hospitals sturggle to cope with a surge in patients

NHS struggling to cope 

Flu kills an average of 8,000 people every year in England and Wales, but experts previously warned that this number could rise significantly if the Aussie flu struck.

Some 55,000 operations have been cancelled as hospitals struggle to cope with a surge in patients.

Doctors are cancelling holidays and working late into the night to try to manage the demand after being told to keep patients out of hospitals as the NHS struggles.

The soaring cases, which jumped by 48 per cent over the space of a week, has been blamed for adding extra pressure onto an already stretched health service. 

Public Health England shows the killer virus has left 1,078 in hospital - a quarter of which because of so-called 'Aussie flu'

Public Health England shows the killer virus has left 1,078 in hospital - a quarter of which because of so-called 'Aussie flu'

Public Health England shows the killer virus has left 1,078 in hospital – a quarter of which because of so-called ‘Aussie flu’

Flu mistaken for a hangover 

A British mother has spoken of her horrific experience with the illness.

She originally thought it was a hangover after drinking too much prosecco, but quickly realised it was much more serious after it left her bed-bound for five weeks.

Natalie Shand, 39, who said her body ached all over, told the Mirror:  ‘I was bedbound for six days in total. 

‘Then I was OK for two weeks and then by December 23 it knocked me off my feet again for hours at a time.

‘I had it for five weeks.’

Middlesbrough mother Paula Kay, who started suffering symptoms on Boxing Day, believes she picked up the bug while working on a panto.

The 36-year-old said she first had a tight chest and lost her voice, before developing a dry cough and trouble with her sinuses.  

‘I would say the pain is about a six out of 10 – but I have a high pain threshold,’ she said.

‘I’ve had to force myself to eat and I just felt wiped out. 

‘I would do a few little jobs around the house and it felt like a week’s work. 

‘On one day I just kept falling asleep and spent about 24 hours on the sofa. 

‘I’ve had worse but I’ve never known flu last this long.’

‘I thought I was surrounded by Minions’ – one dad’s battle with the deadly bug causing chaos in the UK

Simon Ereira, 36, thought he was surrounded by the Despicable Me characters during his frightening battle with the deadly illness sweeping the UK

Simon Ereira, 36, thought he was surrounded by the Despicable Me characters during his frightening battle with the deadly illness sweeping the UK

Simon Ereira, 36, thought he was surrounded by the Despicable Me characters during his frightening battle with the deadly illness sweeping the UK

A dad struck down with ‘Aussie flu’ became so delirious he believed he was surrounded by minions.

Simon Ereira, 36, has been battling the deadly bug since Boxing Day and said it was one of the worst things he’d ever had.

And his fever-induced hallucinations even convinced him he was seeing the mischievous Despical Me characters.

The Stockton-on-Tees resident spent a whole day in the bathroom vomiting after suffering ‘wrenching’ stomach pain.

‘The headache was the worst, to the point lights had to be off in any room,’ he told GazetteLive.

‘I slept on and off for majority of it and got a very severe fever, where I spent one night in my living room trying to figure why I had Minions in the room with me, and another where I had three relatives sitting on the sofa with me, all three of which have passed. 

‘That was the point I thought I was a goner.’

He added: ‘I had one night of intense pain where I actually sat in the loo in tears. 

‘It just removed any ounce of energy from you.’

Teesside was recently named one the UK hotspots for the bug.

‘This is about life and death’: BBC’s Andrew Marr lashes Theresa May over NHS winter crisis as he tells her if he suffered his stroke this year he could have died because of A&E delays

The BBC’s Andrew Marr lashed Theresa May over the NHS winter crisis today, suggesting if he had stroke this year he might have died.

Marr said delays to emergency treatment were a ‘life and death matter’ and recalled his own illness in January 2013 in an interview with the Prime Minister.

He told Mrs May about a woman called Leah Butler Smith whose mother waited five hours for stroke treatment in recent weeks because of delays in an Accident and Emergency department in Essex.  

Marr said if he had been forced to wait for five hours for treatment he might never have survived the devastating stroke he suffered while on a rowing machine. 

The BBC's Andrew Marr lashed Theresa May over the NHS winter crisis today, suggesting if he had stroke this year he might have died

The BBC's Andrew Marr lashed Theresa May over the NHS winter crisis today, suggesting if he had stroke this year he might have died

The BBC’s Andrew Marr lashed Theresa May over the NHS winter crisis today, suggesting if he had stroke this year he might have died

During the interview, Marr told Mrs May about a woman called Leah Butler Smith whose mother waited five hours for stroke treatment in recent weeks because of delays in an Accident and Emergency department in Essex

During the interview, Marr told Mrs May about a woman called Leah Butler Smith whose mother waited five hours for stroke treatment in recent weeks because of delays in an Accident and Emergency department in Essex

During the interview, Marr told Mrs May about a woman called Leah Butler Smith whose mother waited five hours for stroke treatment in recent weeks because of delays in an Accident and Emergency department in Essex

Mrs May (pictured in Maidenhead this morning with husband Philip) said the Government was working to tackle the problems in the health service with more money and detailed plans 

Mrs May (pictured in Maidenhead this morning with husband Philip) said the Government was working to tackle the problems in the health service with more money and detailed plans 

Mrs May (pictured in Maidenhead this morning with husband Philip) said the Government was working to tackle the problems in the health service with more money and detailed plans 

In her first interview of the year, which was pre-recorded in Maidenhead yesterday, Mrs May insisted she understood the concerns but said the Government was working to tackle the problems. 

Marr told her: ‘If I’d been waiting for five hours before I’d seen a doctor after my stroke I would not be here talking to you.

‘This is about life and death and up and down the country people are having horrendous experiences of the NHS. Where they say there’s a plan or not there is a real, real problem.’ 

Marr returned to work eight months after his January 2013 stroke (pictured) but was left permanently disabled and using a cane to help him walk 

Marr returned to work eight months after his January 2013 stroke (pictured) but was left permanently disabled and using a cane to help him walk 

Marr returned to work eight months after his January 2013 stroke (pictured) but was left permanently disabled and using a cane to help him walk 

‘If we look at what is happening across the NHS what we see is that actually the NHS is delivering for more people, it is treating more people and more people are being seen within the four hours every day than has been in the – a few years ago.

‘But of course nothing’s perfect and there is more for us to do.’ 

Mrs May insisted the Government had put more money into the NHS ahead of this winter.

And she said there had been extensive planning, part of which involved the cancellation of planned operations this week to free up capacity.

Both Mrs May and her health secretary Jeremy Hunt apologised for the cancellations this week and she said today: ‘I was apologising for the fact that of course as we’ve seen some operations have been postponed and some people have been delayed in being admitted to – to hospital.

‘Now, if you look across the NHS, experience is different. Experience is different from hospital to hospital as to what is – what is happening. There are some hospitals where very few operations have been cancelled.’ 

In her first interview of the year, which was pre-recorded in Maidenhead yesterday (pictured), Mrs May insisted she understood the concerns

In her first interview of the year, which was pre-recorded in Maidenhead yesterday (pictured), Mrs May insisted she understood the concerns

In her first interview of the year, which was pre-recorded in Maidenhead yesterday (pictured), Mrs May insisted she understood the concerns

Mrs May visited Frimley Park Hospital near Camberley, this week to see first hand the pressure on the NHS (pictured) 

Mrs May visited Frimley Park Hospital near Camberley, this week to see first hand the pressure on the NHS (pictured) 

Mrs May visited Frimley Park Hospital near Camberley, this week to see first hand the pressure on the NHS (pictured) 

Marr told the Prime Minister extra money put into the NHS was ‘not nearly enough’ and the health service was under going the ‘tightest funding squeeze in its history’. 

She replied: ‘Well year in and year out we look at the funding for the National Health Service and what we’ve done is consistently where we felt it did need more funding we have put more funding into it.

‘We’ve put some – we put some extra money in for the coping with the winter pressures.’ 

She added: ‘We should be proud of the fact that our NHS has been named as the safest and best health care system in the world. Is there more we can do? Yes, of course there is and that’s what the government will be doing.’ 

SICK PATIENTS ARE BEING FORCES FROM STRETCHERS ONTO CHAIRS AS SOON AS THEY’RE DEEMED ‘FIT TO SIT’ AS NHS TRIES TO GET STACKED UP AMBULANCES BACK ON THE ROAD

Seriously ill patients arriving by ambulance at besieged casualty units are being forced off stretchers and treated on chairs – to get overstretched paramedics back on the road.

Under a desperate new move to deal with the winter crisis gripping the NHS, sick and injured patients are assessed by hospital staff to see if they are ‘fit to sit’.

Managers hope the scheme will reduce lengthy delays that have seen up to 25 ambulances queuing at hospitals with patients on board.

George Eliot Hospital in Warwickshire wrote in its ‘winter plan action matrix’ that ‘fit to sit’ would ‘improve ambulance handover delays’ and late last year it ‘ordered appropriate seating’ that met infection control requirements.

The NHS Improvement quango told all trusts that last winter saw ‘record numbers of delayed hospital handovers’ across England.

Patients should be transferred from ambulance to A&E within 15 minutes but latest figures show many having to wait far longer, with 111,524 handovers taking more than an hour in 2016-17.

In the new action plan, trusts were told they ‘must avoid the use of ambulance trolleys for patients who are “fit to sit’, and should move them to a chair if appropriate.

Seriously ill patients arriving by ambulance at besieged casualty units are being forced off stretchers and treated on chairs – to get overstretched paramedics back on the road.  Pictured: A queue of ambulances outside Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford

Seriously ill patients arriving by ambulance at besieged casualty units are being forced off stretchers and treated on chairs – to get overstretched paramedics back on the road.  Pictured: A queue of ambulances outside Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford

Seriously ill patients arriving by ambulance at besieged casualty units are being forced off stretchers and treated on chairs – to get overstretched paramedics back on the road.  Pictured: A queue of ambulances outside Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford

‘This can expedite investigations and facilitates discharge assessments. Such an approach assists greatly the use of ambulatory care pathways and reduces the demand on trolley/cubicle spaces.

‘Hospital staff, including handover staff and ambulance staff, should be made aware of the fit to sit guidance.’

The Mail on Sunday reported last week on the overcrowding in the NHS

The Mail on Sunday reported last week on the overcrowding in the NHS

The Mail on Sunday reported last week on the overcrowding in the NHS

Separate guidance published last year explained: ‘On arrival or at the time of initial assessment, patients on trolleys should be assessed for their suitability to be transferred to wait in a chair. 

‘Fit to sit assessments help release ambulances to respond to the next call.’ In Lancashire, the introduction of fit to sit ‘resulted in increased space on the corridor in times of pressure’.

Not all patients are happy. One woman wrote on social media: ‘Being classed as “fit to sit” in A&E waiting room when they are probably close to death is an absolute joke’.

Health service sources defended the scheme last night and said it did not mean patients received any worse treatment than those in beds.

One said: ‘Fit to sit is an initiative to make sure patients who have been conveyed to hospital on an ambulance stretcher but do not need to continue lying down – and would actually be more comfortable sitting up – are placed in a bay with a chair rather than a trolley.’

 



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