Page last updated at 15:40 GMT, Thursday, 3 September 2009 16:40 UK

18 new cases of swine flu in NI

Woman sneezing
Fewer people went to their GP over flu-like symptoms in the last week

There were 18 new cases of swine flu in Northern Ireland last week, the Department of Health has said.

It also revealed that anti-viral prescriptions for the virus fell again, from 577 to 384.

GP consultations for flu have decreased, but remain significantly higher than rates recorded in the same weeks of previous years.

The total number of confirmed swine flu cases in Northern Ireland is 160, of which 56 have been hospitalised.

The department has also revised planning assumptions for the swine flu pandemic.

The new assumptions are that: Up to 30% of the population may become ill with flu at some point during the pandemic; up to 1% of people who become ill with flu may require hospitalisation and up to 0.1% of people who become ill may die from the virus.

Commenting on these, Health Minister Michael McGimpsey said: "The updated planning assumptions indicate that in Northern Ireland during the peak of the pandemic, approximately 113,000 people could contract swine flu in one week.

"These assumptions do not yet take account of the impact of the vaccination programme, and are not predictions - they are assumptions that allow us, to plan and prepare for the worst, while continuing to hope for the best.

"We now know more about the virus and while in the majority of people it is mild, for some it can be a serious illness. We know now that it isn't a killer, but it does kill."

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