THE number of swine flu cases in the region has decreased slightly but health chiefs have warned this should not be seen as the start of a downward trend. New figures released by the East of England NHS show the number of unique reference numbers (URNs),

THE number of swine flu cases in the region has decreased slightly but health chiefs have warned this should not be seen as the start of a downward trend.

New figures released by the East of England NHS show the number of unique reference numbers (URNs), which people are given when they contact the flu pandemic service, has dropped.

In the past week, the East of England saw 8,416 URNs given out and 6,124 anti-virals issued. This is compared to 10,360 URNs and 7,380 anti-virals the previous week.

During the past week in Cambridgeshire 1,363 URNs were given out and 1,075 anti-virals were issued compared to 1936 URNs and 1497 anti-virals the previous week.

As of Wednesday, November 4 there were 71 people in hospital in connection with swine flu across the East of England. Nine of these were in critical care.

There have been seven deaths of East of England residents relating to swine flu since April 2009.

A statement on the East of England NHS website states: "There has been a slight dip in the number of unique reference numbers issued through the National Pandemic Flu Service this week. This may be due to the half-term week, and is not necessarily the start of a downward trend or plateau in numbers of cases."

People are advised to prepare for swine flu by learning to recognise the symptoms, establishing 'flu friends' those who can help if you fall ill, keeping paracetamol-based cold remedies in the house and having a thermometer available.

Symptoms of swine flu are if you have a temperature of 38°C or above and at least two of the following symptoms: widespread muscle and joint aches, a cough, headache, blocked or runny nose, sore throat, vomiting and watery diarrhoea.

INFORMATION: If you think you have swine flu, contact the National Pandemic Flu Service for assessment, on 0800 1513100, or www.direct.gov.uk/pandemicflu