A deadly strain of flu which has ravaged Australia and New Zealand could mean Britain is in for the worst bout of the virus for 50 years, experts have warned.
Some have warned it is ‘inevitable’ that it will make its way to the UK.
Professor Robert Dingwall, a public health expert at Nottingham Trent University, has warned the virus could potentially be the worst outbreak since the Hong Kong flu of 1968, which killed a million people.
More than 100,000 influenza cases have been confirmed in Australia up to the start of September, according to the Daily Record.
The virus has claimed lives including Canberra medical receptionist Jennifer Thew, who died after a week-long battle with the virus.
Professor Dingwall told the Daily Express: ‘Based on the Australian experience public health officials need to meet and urgently review emergency planning procedures.
‘Public Health England should be working with local authorities and local health services to ensure more hospital beds are freed up. We need to be prepared, alert and flexible.
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‘It’s almost inevitable this will come to us. This is potentially the worst winter since the Hong Kong ‘flu outbreak of 1968.’
Earlier this week, Dr Taj Hassan, president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, admitted there were growing concerns about the NHS’s capacity to deal with a severe outbreak this winter.
He said: ‘Winter last year was relatively mild and without a major outbreak of flu. There are indications that the flu vaccine will not be as successful this year and as such we anticipate that conditions will be even more difficult.’
He said an additional 5,000 extra beds could be needed to cope with demand.