Page last updated at 15:44 GMT, Thursday, 17 December 2009

Fall in swine flu cases continues

Woman sneezing
The majority of cases in the UK have shown only mild symptoms

Swine flu cases are continuing to fall as the second peak of the pandemic seems to be coming to an end.

In England, there were 9,000 new infections last week down from 11,000 the week before, while in Scotland it has dipped under 8,000.

Numbers in Northern Ireland and Wales are even lower, meaning the levels of flu being seen are what would be expected during an average winter.

But experts are still warning cases could rise in the future.

Flu first peaked in July when there were more than 100,000 cases a week across the UK.

The second peak during the autumn did not reach such a figure, but it was characterised by high numbers in hospital - at some points there were as many as 1,000.

The latest data also showed a rise in the death toll, which has now reached 299 in the UK.

But for most the virus remains relatively mild.

Last week, a study into deaths by chief medical officer Sir Liam Donaldson suggested the death rate was just 0.026% among those infected.

He concluded the first pandemic of the 21st century has been "considerably less lethal than feared".

After releasing the latest data, Sir Liam said he believed the flu plans had worked "extremely well" and he was very pleased with how the NHS had risen to the challenge.

He said the biggest fear had been that the NHS would be overwhelmed, but that had not happened and the UK had been "lucky with the virus".

Graph showing swine flu deaths in the UK

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