A swine flu expert has warned that the number of UK cases of the potentially deadly virus may be more than double the official count of 557.

As another 15 people were confirmed with the disease, Professor Hugh Pennington of Aberdeen University said: “It would be very reasonable to say we’ve got at least twice as many cases as we know about.”

He told BBC Radio 5 Live: “All the experts think that the numbers we’ve got are a significant underestimate. It is believed that in the US there are 20 cases for every confirmed case.”

Seven of the new UK cases are in London, three in the North West and two in the South East. The East of England, East Midlands and West Midlands each have one new case.

Among those in hospital with the virus is a 38-year-old woman, who last week gave birth prematurely while critically ill. A 44-year-old woman, a 23-year-old woman and two men aged 45 and 37 are also being treated as inpatients.

Thirteen cases were announced in Scotland and one in Northern Ireland on Sunday. The Health Protection Agency has 601 cases under laboratory investigation in the UK.

The global number of confirmed swine flu cases has passed 24,000. The swine flu alert level from the World Health Organization remains at Phase 5, which means there is human-to-human spread of the virus in at least two countries in the same region.

From Nursing Times