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Aussie flu outbreak sees UK cases rocket by 48% in just one week

At least 1,649 people have been struck down with the potentially deadly strain in England and Wales over the Christmas period

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At least 1,649 people have been struck down with the potentially deadly strain in England and Wales over the Christmas period.

Data from Public Health England showed that cases shot up by 48 per cent in just seven days.

Doctors have described corridors overflowing with patients and ambulances being forced to queue outside A&E as the winter flu season begins to take hold.

The lethal virus claimed its first victims in Ireland as medics fear it is about to sweep the UK.

The HSE has revealed a number of people have died from the flu as cases of the strong ‘Aussie’ strain doubled in just one week.

The ‘Aussie flu’ caused havoc in Australian hospitals during their winter months.

The H3N2 subtype, which is a strain of influenza A, triggered two and a half times the normal number of cases in Australia.

Government statistics showed 1,111 people were struck down with the disease as temperatures plummeted last week – a 156 per cent jump on the previous seven days.

And the HSE has revealed under ten people have died from influenza so far this winter.

A further 73 have been hospitalised – causing medics to urge people to get vaccinated as the flue “actively circulates” in Ireland.

Dr Kevin Kelleher, from the Health Protection department, told Independent.ie: “There have been a few deaths already… under 10 people have died so far this year.

“I don’t give specific numbers when it’s less than 10 because people could be identified.”

He added: “The most important thing is that if people think they’ve got it is to stay at home and look after themselves.”

Now Public Health England have revealed there has been a sharp rise in cases triggered by a surge in two aggressive sub-types of flu.

Experts fear the virulent flu strain, which has now reached the UK, could prove as deadly as the Hong Kong flu in 1968, which killed one million people.

Usually, just one subtype, either influenza A or B, is responsible for the majority of cases. It spreads much easier in the cold weather.

But two weeks ago, 522 cases of type A and 546 cases of type B were recorded across England and Wales – with 43 cases yet to be identified.

So far this winter, 23 people have died from the outbreak and nearly a third occurred two weeks ago.

Experts warned to expect the worst outbreak in 50 years back in September as the NHS urged all eligible Brits to get the free flu jab – but admitted it was too late to tweak the strains in their stockpile.

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