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Winter flu hits epidemic level

South-west one of the worst-affected regions for Christmas grippe

WINTER flu has reached epidemic levels in many regions of France.

According to GPs' network Sentinelles-Inserm, there were 130,000 new cases in the past week - 204 cases per 100,000 population.

The south-west is one of the worst-hit areas, along with Champagne region and the Nord department.

The epidemic level for seasonal flu is set at 174 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants.

Last winter the government says only about half of people in at-risk groups were vaccinated against seasonal flu – the level fell 26% since winter 2009-2010.

Nationally only 23% of all people aged over 15 were vaccinated, the same as eight years ago.

Flu is believed to have been responsible for a 13% mortality rise from February 6 to March 18 this year, with an extra 6,000 extra deaths compared to usual.

It is recommended that everyone get vaccinated, but those receiving free vouchers are especially urged to make use of them. The vaccines only work for a few months so last year's will have no protective effect.

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