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Switzerland succumbs to flu epidemic

Switzerland is in the grip of a soaring flu epidemic. In the past week, cases shot up by nearly four per cent. The worst-affected areas are the French-speaking cantons, where cases have already surpassed those recorded for the whole of last winter.

This content was published on January 8, 2000 - 15:02

Switzerland is in the grip of a soaring flu epidemic. The worst-affected areas are the French-speaking cantons, where the number of sufferers has already surpassed those recorded for the whole of last winter.

Doctors say the number of flu sufferers rocketed in the last week of December, and are continuing to rise. In the past week alone, cases shot up by nearly four per cent.

The rise was particularly marked in cantons Geneva, Vaud, Valais and Neuchatel, where this week over eight per cent of all visits to the doctor were for flu, more than double compared to the week before.

And the epidemic has yet to peak. The ministry of health says cases will continue to rise for at least the next few days.

Spokeswoman, Daniela Müller, says she is relieved many people were vaccinated. "Without the vaccination campaign, cases would have been far higher," she said, "even though they are already close to levels reached for the whole of last winter."

The statistics suggest the epidemic is sweeping the country from west to east. In the areas around the western Jura mountains this week, flu cases accounted for nearly eight per cent of all doctor's visits, compared to just over three per cent the previous week.

In the northwest, the statistics for the two Basel cantons, Aargau and Solothurn were 5.5 per cent (up from 1.7 a week ago).

Flu accounted for about four percent of visits to doctors in central areas, while the eastern canton of Graubünden and Italian-speaking Ticino recorded 7.7 per cent (up from two per cent last week).

From staff and wire reports


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