Swine flu is starting to creep back into the news agenda, as London apparently has more severely ill patients than anywhere else in the country (though note the final line of the Standard's story: we have more critical care beds, so the conclusion looks a bit post hoc ergo propter hoc). So when the Guardian kindly provided some data, we thought we'd take a look and see if we could make sense of it.
Casting our minds back to July when the outbreak peaked, we were seeing figures like 300 or 400 cases per 100,000 across the city, with Tower Hamlets streaking ahead with 792 per 100,000. The same borough still leads the current case table, but with a much less terrifying-sounding 105 cases per 100,000 (as of the week starting 2nd November). The rest of the city is showing a steady uptick to around the 35-65 cases mark, which is enough to take us back into epidemic status. That's pretty much on par with the rest of the country, although Birmingham and several bits of Scotland seem to be incubating the virus much faster than us. Someone might like to ask what Kingston's secret is, mind - .6.8 cases per 100,000? Do they all have superstrong immune systems down there?
Even as deaths increase, cases are dropping - which could be down to half term - but as winter creeps in, we expect the papers will stop criticising a half-blind man's handwriting and start showing photos of face masks again. The virus isn't showing signs of mutating though, so for most of us it's still a case of wash your hands and bed and paracetamol if you're unlucky, rather than panic and Tamiflu.