Swine Flu Spreading Quickly
But it is not known how many cases there are locally
The number of swine flu cases in the borough is expected to rise sharply, local health authoities say, but as many of those currently affected are recovering at home without medication, it is no longer known how many have people contracted the virus in the local area.
Cases have been reported at BBC headquarters in White City as well as at a number of local schools and across the community.
However, most cases has so far proven to be mild and those affected are said to be recovering quickly. While scores of residents are now seeking medical advice for flu symptoms, testing is no longer routine.
Dr Dagmar Zeuner from NHS Hammersmith & Fulham says people should not let fears about the virus affect their daily lives: “If you feel ill, it’s important to telephone your GP, not to head down to your surgery, walk-in centre or hospital A&E,” she says.
“We’ve already seen a significant number of people with symptoms of flu turning up at GP surgeries and local hospitals which risks infecting other residents, doctors and nurses. We are asking everyone to help by making sure they follow the general advice of staying at home and phoning either their GP or NHS Direct for an assessment. They will let you know the right thing to do for your situation.”
NHS Hammersmith and Fulham say that if you are registered with a local GP and have been prescribed antiviral medicine you will need to arrange for someone who does not have flu to collect it.
“Everyone who needs antiviral medication will be able to get it, but we need people to find ‘flu friends’ who can collect it for them. Sick people need to stay at home to rest and to avoid passing the flu to others," says Dr Zeuner.
There are three antiviral collection points in the borough, although more will open in future if necessary. The collection point in Shepherd's Bush is in the Boots in the West 12 shopping centre. The local health authorities say your GP will ask you which location you would like your friend to collect the antiviral from and the GP will then fax your details to that centre. Antivirals are capsules you can take at home.
Although a number of local schools have children off sick with flu, education heads are asking parents to follow advice distributed through schools. The virus is spreading in the community as well as schools so school closures are no longer believed practical or effective.
Andrew Christie, Director of Children’s Services for the Council, said: “We’re getting expert health advice on each school when a case of swine flu is picked up. The assessment may vary from school to school but in general the message is sick children or staff should be kept off school but for healthy people is business as normal.”
July 13, 2009