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Many Norwegians affected by Swine flu

altThis year's flu season has just started to peak, and the swine flu ( A H1N1) has affected more people this year than previous winters, apart from the 2009 pandemic.




Fresh figures from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (FHI) show that the number of outbreaks continued to rise in week 51 and 52, and have now moved beyond the regular limit.

Last week, 415 cases of influenza virus A (H1N1) were reported, and 101 cases of virus B. The FHI continues to advice people who belong to the groups considered to be most at risk to get vaccinated.

Although the cases of swine flu will probably constitute a larger portion of this year's epidemic than previous years, the institute thinks that people's immunity from either being vaccinated of having the flu last year will help limit the spread.

However, the hospitals are under a lot of pressure to handle the sudden rush of flu patients. A hospital in Molde has already run out of beds, and Ahus in Akershus County has had to establish a temporary post with 15 patients.

"The flu season come every year, and it will last throughout the winter. What varies is when it starts, and when it peaks," says chief physician Olav Natås at Stavanger University Hospital. They have also experienced a rush of patients in the new year.

"We are probably at the very beginning now, and we assume that the numbers will continue to rise," Natås says.


Julie Ryland

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