Britain gripped by worst flu outbreak since 2000

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Yellow Belt
Britain is in the grip of the worst flu outbreak for eight years, with emergency services fearing they will be "swamped" by calls when GP surgeries close for Christmas.

Accident and Emergency doctors said there is chaos in their departments, even before GP surgeries close for Christmas Photo: PA

This week's official flu figures are expected to show a further surge in the number of people infected.

With most GPs surgeries shut for four days over the Christmas period, experts said the remaining medical services would become stretched to breaking point by the weekend.

Accident and Emergency doctors said the chaos in their departments was already reminiscent of scenes from the last big NHS winter crisis, at the turn of the millenium, when crematoriums were forced to work around the clock to cope with the 22,000 people who died.

The latest figures show the number of flu infections running at 40 per 100,000 - the highest level at this point in the year since the winter of 2000-1, when flu rates went on to reach epidemic proportions.
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