Page last updated at 15:51 GMT, Wednesday, 17 June 2009 16:51 UK

City 'cannot contain swine flu'

It is thought that 34 schools in the city have been affected by the virus

Health officials in Birmingham say the spread of swine flu in the city can no longer be contained.

Fifty-five new cases have been confirmed in the West Midlands region taking the total to 567 - more than half of the total cases in England.

The city council's health scrutiny committee was told officials want to move to "mitigating" the outbreak.

Sean Connolly, the city's director of resources, said the Department of Health was listening to its concerns.

'Different response'

He said: "Containment is too late in Birmingham. We are planning for the mitigation phase."

Under the containment policy all those people who may potentially have come into contact with an infected individual are offered anti-viral drugs.

The aim is effectively to isolate the virus, allowing no opportunity for it to spread further.

But once cases become too frequent to contain, drugs are only given to those people, such as family members, who are at significant risk of infection.

It is also thought that health officials will now rely for an initial diagnosis on GPs rather than waiting for confirmation by laboratory test results.

Mr Connolly said he would "like to proceed" to a policy of mitigation.

"The Department of Health is listening to what we are saying. I would be very surprised if the DoH didn't look at our circumstances and use a different response."

There are currently 1,582 confirmed cases of swine flu in the UK.

Health officials have blamed the extent of the virus in the West Midlands on an outbreak at Welford Primary School, Handsworth, Birmingham.

It shut in May with nearly 200 people connected to the school diagnosed with the virus although it has since reopened.

Dr Sue Ibbotson, of the Health Protection Agency, said it was not surprising cases had spread to other schools in the area.

The BBC understands 34 of the city's schools have been affected by the virus.

Map of swine flu in UK

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