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Swine Flu Media Bulletin Spread And Extent Of The Outbreak (Information As At 5pm On 27 May), Wales

September 16, 2017

- 0 confirmed cases in Wales.

- 90 people have been under investigation in Wales. Of these, swine flu has been ruled out in 85 cases, leaving five still under investigation. All of these are displaying, or have displayed, mild symptoms.

- The five people under investigation were well when first identified, but reported recent flu-like symptoms following travel to Mexico. Blood tests are being undertaken on these individuals to see if they had the flu and to help the NPHS understand the pattern of the disease from the past. Their symptoms may or may not have been due to swine flu. Testing will be conducted in a number of weeks to check whether these people did have swine flu - scientifically it won't work before that. Investigations have shown that people they had close contact with did not catch flu from them when they were ill.

- There are now 185 confirmed cases in the UK - 13 cases in Scotland, 171 cases in England and one in Northern Ireland. All of these are responding well to treatment.

- For the latest international figures for the spread of swine flu, visit the website of the World Health Organization at who.int

Comment from Welsh Assembly Government and National Public Health Service for Wales

- Chief Medical Officer for Wales, Dr Tony Jewell, said:

"Whilst there have been no confirmed cases in Wales to date, we fully expect that there will be confirmed cases in due course.

"It is therefore important people remain vigilant and maintain good hand and respiratory hygeine to reduce the risk of spreading of infection.

"It is right that we are preparing for the possibility of a global pandemic and the UK's arrangements continue to ensure that we are well-placed to deal with this new infection should it spread.

"The Welsh Assembly Government is continuing to liaise with the National Public Health Service for Wales, Health Protection Agency, the other UK countries and international colleagues to monitor the situation closely.

"Although it is natural for people to feel apprehensive, we reassure the public that we are working to prepare for the arrival of the virus, have been for many years, and have robust procedures in place."

- Dr Roland Salmon, Director of the Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre, National Public Health Service for Wales, said:

"We continue to advise that anyone who has flu-like symptoms and has travelled to one of the affected areas should stay at home and phone their GP or NHS Direct Wales on 0845 46 47.

"People should not go to Accident and Emergency Departments or to their GP surgery without ringing first, as this may risk spreading the infection. It also places undue pressure on the emergency services.

"International developments mean that we must continue to be on our guard. Reports of transmission from human to pig and the rate of spread in North America demonstrate that the swine flu has pandemic potential.

"Now that the genetic code of the swine flu virus has been sequenced and the first UK isolate of the virus has been shared with partner scientific institutes by the Health Protection Agency, our understanding of the virus is growing. These are the first steps towards developing a European prototype of the swine flu vaccine.

"Although there are indications that this flu is mild, we know that seasonal flu can be severe, particularly for elderly and vulnerable people, so there is still good reason for us all to take action to reduce its effects. Flu is often confused with a bad cold but is in fact far more serious and leads to many deaths each year in Wales.

"Worldwide, four countries have now reported a total of 74 deaths from this infection.

"It is always good practice, at any time of year, to follow sensible hygiene such as covering your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, using a tissue when possible, and disposing of dirty tissues promptly and carefully in a bin.

"The National Public Health Service for Wales will continue to assess any person with flu-like symptoms who has travelled to affected areas."

Public health advice and messages

- If you have returned from an affected area and have flu-like symptoms, stay at home, phone your GP or NHS Direct Wales and you will be assessed and receive treatment if necessary. Do not go into your GP surgery or Accident and Emergency department unless you are advised to do so or are seriously ill, as you may spread the illness to others.

- Further information including health advice can be found at wales, nphs.wales.nhs and hpa. You can also call the Swine Flu Information line on 0800 1 513 513 for recorded information, or NHS Direct Wales on 0845 46 47 for health advice.

-- It is always good practice to follow respiratory and hand hygiene such as:

- Covering your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, using a tissue when possible.
- Disposing of dirty tissues promptly and carefully.
- Maintaining good basic hygiene, for example washing hands frequently with soap and water to reduce the spread of the virus from your hands to face or to other people.
- Cleaning hard surfaces (e.g. door handles) frequently using a normal cleaning product.
- Helping your children follow this advice.

Facemasks

- Although we are aware that facemasks are being given out to the public in Mexico, the available scientific evidence does not support the general wearing of facemasks by those who are not ill whilst going about their normal activities. We are, however, reviewing NHS supplies and stockpiles of facemasks for healthcare workers who are likely to come into regular contact with people who may have symptoms. The UK will receive an additional five million surgical facemasks and an extra 1.6 million respirators. Wales will receive 4.9% of this stock for its healthcare staff.

Control measures

- Agreements have been signed between the UK Government and vaccine manufacturers to secure supplies of up to 90 million doses of H1N1 vaccine before the autumn. This will not affect the usual seasonal flu vaccination and will be made available to frontline healthcare workers and vulnerable people. Advance purchase arrangements are also in place to buy enough vaccine for the whole population should a pandemic be declared.

- The Welsh Assembly Government's Health Emergency Preparedness Unit has issued guidance to Local Health Boards on anti-viral distribution. The unit is co-ordinating work on identifying appropriate collection points and the necessary arrangements to support this process.

- People who have travelled to affected areas and have flu-like symptoms have been advised to stay at home and call NHS Direct Wales on 0845 4647 or phone their GP for health advice.

- The national Swine Flu Information line - 0800 1 513 513 - provides recorded information. People requiring health advice should contact NHS Direct Wales on 0845 4647.

- The National Public Health Service for Wales has provided advice to port health authorities on arrangements for returning travellers.

Features of the outbreak

- Based on assessment of all available information and following several expert consultations, the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the level of influenza pandemic alert at phase 5.

- Phase 5 indicates that WHO considers a global pandemic to be imminent. This change is a signal to countries' governments to ramp up their pandemic preparations.

- More investigations and testing are needed to determine the severity of the disease and the ease with which it can spread. These investigations are currently underway with the support of the WHO.

- Testing has shown that the human swine influenza H1N1 can be treated with the antiviral oseltamavir (Tamiflu®) and zanamivir (Relenza®).

- Evidence of sustained person to person spread in Mexico and the USA. Person to person transmission of swine flu has also been confirmed in England, Scotland, Canada, Spain and Germany.

- Further information on Swine Flu and Pandemic Flu is available bilingually from nphs.wales.nhs

- Further information from the Welsh Assembly Government response is available bilingually at wales

Source
Welsh Assembly Government

View drug information on Relenza; Tamiflu capsule.