People in West Essex urged to find a 'Flu friend'

PEOPLE in west Essex are being urged to take time now to find a flu friend - someone who can collect their antivirals if they are confirmed as having the virus. Over the next couple of months the UK will see a rise in cases of swine flu, although curren

PEOPLE in west Essex are being urged to take time now to find a 'flu friend' - someone who can collect their antivirals if they are confirmed as having the virus.

Over the next couple of months the UK will see a rise in cases of swine flu, although currently the number of cases in west Essex is relatively low.

Advice remains for people to carry on with their daily lives while also taking sensible precautions to reduce their chances of contracting the virus.

If swine flu is confirmed by your GP, you will be given a prescription which your 'flu friend' - a member of your family or a friend or neighbour - can then take to a designated local antiviral collection point (currently four designated pharmacies across the PCT area) to collect your antiviral. This means you do not need to go along yourself.


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NHS West Essex director of public health, Alison Cowie, said: "We are well-prepared to deal with increasing numbers of swine flu cases.

"It is important to note that the majority of cases in the UK have been mild and self-limiting though in a small number of cases it has proved more severe. In most of these cases the people were suffering from underlying health conditions."

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If you think you have swine flu, you should:

* Stay at home, and go online and check your symptoms on the symptom checker at www.nhs.uk

* Call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47 or the swine flu information line on 0800 1 513 513

* If you are still concerned, you should then call your GP, who can provide a diagnosis over the phone

Patients are reminded that they should not go to their GP, the Walk-in Centre, A&E or pharmacy if they suspect you have swine flu, unless told by their GP to do so.

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