August 27, 2009 / 2:31 PM / 10 years ago

Britain says new H1N1 flu cases falling

A passenger wears a face mask as he walks through the terminal building after arriving at Manchester Airport in Manchester, northern England, April 30, 2009. REUTERS/Phil Noble

LONDON (Reuters) - The number of new cases of H1N1 flu in England is continuing to fall sharply, although a second wave of the potentially fatal virus is still expected, the government’s top health advisor said on Thursday.

Chief Medical Officer Liam Donaldson said there were an estimated 5,000 new cases last week, compared to 11,000 in the previous seven days.

“A second wave is expected but its timing cannot be accurately forecast,” Donaldson told a news conference.

The total number of deaths in England since the virus was first diagnosed reached 57, up three from the previous week.

However, most cases are mild and there is no sign that the virus is changing or becoming more severe. Babies under one and young people aged between 15 and 24 are the two groups most commonly suffering flu-like symptoms.

Health officials said U.S. drug company Baxter International has delivered the first 200,000 doses of a flu vaccine. But the medicine can not yet be used because it must first be licensed, a process due to end by early October.

The World Health Organisation declared on June 11 that the outbreak of the virus was a pandemic.

Reporting by Kate Kelland

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