Another pupil at one of five schools forced to close because of swine flu has been confirmed to have contracted the disease.
Together with a second new case, it brings to 34 the total number known to be infected with the H1N1 virus, with a further 390 being tested.
Health Secretary Alan Johnson has said that while there is no evidence of sustained person-to-person transmission, he warned that “this does remain a serious situation which could rapidly escalate”.
He has told MPs that the Health Protection Agency are working to develop a quick-response system prior to a dedicated flu helpline being opened later in the year.
Sir Liam Donaldson, the chief medical officer, has said that older people in the UK may have previously encountered the virus before and thus developed a level of immunity.
He said: “There may be some cross protection in over-50s in particular. That may not turn out to be the case, but it would be a help.”
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“This is a bit open-ended I think. No schools shouldn’t close. The affected pupil(s) should be sent home and isolated. We will have hordes of schoolchildren roaming the streets. It would not do any good at all. Are doctors’ surgeries and hospitals going to be closed down if a member of staff is affected? No, of course they won’t. It is time some realism is put into play” – Barbara Lawrence, Sydenham