The UK Health Department has reduced the ‘worst case scenario’ predicted death toll for swine flu by more than a third but has warned that a second wave could be on its way.

Government scientific advisors now believe that in a worst case scenario 19,000 people could die from swine flu (H1N1) in the UK, a significant drop from the 65,000 predicted in July.

The health department has, however, made it clear that it would not scale down its efforts to stem the pandemic as it was highly likely that a second wave would hit in October as winter approaches.

UK Chief Medical Officer Sir Liam Donaldson was careful to say that the revised estimations awere assumptions and not predictions.

“We do not want the NHS to rest on its laurels and will be vigilantly prepared if there is a second wave,” Donaldson said.

“We still expect the NHS to come under a lot of pressure this winter, when swine flu cases are expected to rise.”

The predicted death toll is based on one in three people across Britain becoming infected and does not take into account the impact the swine flu vaccine, which is due to be released next month, will have.

Over the last few weeks there has been a steady reduction in the amount of reported swine flu cases with only 4,500 reported in England last week, down from 5,000 the previous week. Weekly consultation rates have also dropped off by 26%.

The death toll stands at 70, while 159 patients remain in hospital.

By Daniel Garrun.