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Over the course of a year, it spread to Vietnam, Singapore, India, Australia, Europe, the US, Japan, Africa and South America.Official performance data this summer already revealed that nearly four million patients were waiting for routine operations in June.Official figures are yet to confirm how many people have lost their lives to this year's outbreak, but 370 reported deaths.Professor Paul Van Buynder, chairman of the Immunisation Coalition, previously said it was the 'largest outbreak we've seen for some time'.The elderly with their compromised immune systems are particularly susceptible, and a spike in cases among children between the ages of five and nine was also noted.
Australia - whose winter occurs during our summer - had one of its worst outbreaks on record, with two and a half times the normal number of cases.
Concerned health chiefs are crossing their fingers that the NHS doesn't get bombarded with the major Aussie flu outbreak that is expected this winter.
Routine operations could 'cease for several months' if the over-stretched health service falls victim to the bug that is on its way to the UK after blighting Australia, experts warn.
They have already stressed that the H3N2 strain could pose the same threat to humanity as the Hong Kong flu in 1968, which killed one million people.
And the under-prepared NHS will 'break' if Aussie flu does strike the nation as viciously as expected, the Society for Acute Medicine (SAM) claims.