Hospitals are bracing themselves for the worst flu epidemic in 50 years with news that the strain sweeping the UK has claimed lives in Ireland. One expert warned this could be the worst winter since the Hong Kong flu epidemic of 1968. Though the number of flu-related deaths in Ireland is under 10, 73 people have been treated in hospital and Irish health experts are urging people to get vaccinated.

UK Government statistics show that 1,111 people were struck down with flu last week – a 156 percent jump on the previous seven days. The sharp rise has been triggered by the unusual case of two aggressive subtypes attacking the population in tandem, according to data from Public Health England. Usually just one subtype, either influenza A or B, attacks during the flu season. But this year Britain has been hit by so-called “Aussie flu” a strain of influenza A which wreaked havoc on hospitals in Australia during their winter. READ MORE