The swine flu pandemic could lead to 65,000 deaths in the UK alone, new figures show.
A total of 26 people in England and three in Scotland have died so far after contracting the virus and NHS figures show the service is preparing for a 30% infection rate among the population.
Chief Medical Officer for England, Sir Liam Donaldson, said a telephone and internet-based National Pandemic Flu Service for England should be running towards the end of next week.
Concerned people will be diagnosed and given a number that allows them access to the swine flu vaccine Tamiflu, which can be picked up by a “flu friend” from one of the depots around the country that holds the drug.
Sir Liam said the aim of the new flu service was to alleviate soaring pressure on GP services and hospitals, enabling them to look after the “most seriously ill”.
Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales have not yet implemented similar services but could do so in future if pressure on their health services continues to rise.
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