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Britain Has Swine Flu Program In Place. What's Going To Happen Here?

This seems like a pretty good system. By handling the bulk of inquiries online or over the phone, the British government is keeping swine flu sufferer

This seems like a pretty good system. By handling the bulk of inquiries online or over the phone, the British government is keeping swine flu sufferers where they belong: at home and in bed - which lowers the risk of contagion. Unless I've missed it, I haven't seen similar plans for the United States this fall:

More than 5,500 people received anti-viral drugs for swine flu on the first day of England's National Pandemic Flu Service, the government has said.

The telephone hotline and website were launched so patients could obtain treatment without a GP's prescription.

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The system was "working well", Health Secretary Andy Burnham said.

Sufferers are advised to select a "flu friend" to pick up medicine for them. Critics say the system is open to abuse and should be staffed by experts.

And the Conservatives have argued the service should have begun earlier, when a global pandemic was declared, as it was now "too little, too late".

There are now 1,031 locations across England where the drugs can be collected, up from 330 on Thursday, when the service began.

People who think they have swine flu can complete a questionnaire online or over the telephone.

Among the symptoms listed are fever or temperature over 38C or 100.4F, coupled with two of the following: unusual tiredness, headache, runny nose, sore throat, shortness of breath or cough, loss of appetite, aching muscles, diarrhea or vomiting.

If patients are diagnosed with the virus, they are issued with a unique reference number which must be given when the drugs are collected.

However, patients are still being advised to contact GPs if they have serious underlying illnesses, are pregnant, have sick children aged under one, their condition suddenly worsens or continues to worsen after seven days - five for a child.

More than 100,000 people in the UK are estimated to have caught swine flu in the past week along, while 30 people have died after contracting the illness.

There was a huge rush to access the government website when it went online on Thursday, with reports of it receiving initially 2,600 hits a second, or 9.3m an hour.

More than 58,000 assessments were completed that day, 89% of them online.

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