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Flu epidemic hits 495,000 in a week

GPs warn that virus has still not reached its peak and that three million have been hit

THREE million people have been hit in the flu epidemic which is sweeping France and, despite the school holidays, has still not reached its peak.

The GPs' network Sentinelles said that could happen towards the end of this week. Last week alone saw 395,000 new cases of grippe across the country, an average of 565 infections per 100,000 inhabitants.

Hardest hit areas are the Nord-Pas-de-Calais, with 1.396 cases per 100,000 inhabitants; Languedoc-Roussillon, 1,162; Limousin, 1,126; Auvergne, 879; Champagne-Ardenne, 659; Provence-Alpes-Côte-d'Azur, 619; Franche-Comté, 612, and Centre, 503.

The weekly bulletin from flu specialists Groupes Régionaux d'Observation de la Grippe said: "At present, 60% of the patients consulting a GP or a children's doctor about a respiratory problem are being diagnosed with flu, in most cases the sub-type A(H3N2)."

Elderly people, those with breathing problems and parents of young babies were warned to be especially careful and to avoid contact with anyone affected by flu.

Advice from the Direction Générale de la Santé was to limit contact, wash hands regularly and to sneeze or cough into a paper tissue then throw it away.

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