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12 views Jul 11, 2019
The approach to date

The approach to date - although it is changing in the areas such as Birmingham and London which have the largest outbreaks - has been based on containment.

This has involved close monitoring of flu patients and giving their close contacts drugs to try to prevent the virus developing.

Dr Jarvis said: "If we get to the point where containment is not possible we will not be able to monitor cases as closely or get anti-virals out as quickly. Will we consider it a mild virus then?

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"The response so far has been superb. We have contained better than we expected and that has given us time. We are getting closer to a vaccine and we want that to continue.

Dr Jarvis also warned that public health doctors like himself were risking burnout because of the long hours they were putting in on the front-line of the fight against flu.

"Tired doctors make poor decisions and chronically tired doctors become prone to a variety of health problems."

Dr Vivienne Nathanson, the BMA's head of science and ethics, praised the approach of the UK public since the first outbreak.

"people have not panicked. They have handled it sensibly by following the official advice."

But as the cases mount, Dr Nathanson said she was concerned about suggestions some business are buying in stocks of anti-viral drugs to treat their staff.

As well as having limited effectiveness, Dr Nathanson said businesses needed to be wary of buying fake medicines.

And she added: "There is also the issue of resistance. If we overuse them and use them inappropriately we are more likely to get resistance.