The Department of Health has confirmed that three more people have died from swine flu amid a surge in the number of new cases.

Watch the Dept of Health briefing

The two women and one man each had an underlying illness - they bring to eight the number of people who have died here from the virus.

Around 7,000 new cases are being reported to GPs each week. Currently, 71 people remain hospitalised - 14 are in Intensive Care Units.

The Health Service Executive's GP-led vaccination campaign for people in the at-risk categories is due to begin on Tuesday, 2 November.

Ten people from Northern Ireland have died from the virus, eight of those in the North itself; one who was living in England and one in Spain.

The vaccination campaign for at-risk groups and health staff in Northern Ireland started yesterday. Children from a Special Needs school in Derry, where two pupils were among the victims in the past few days, have been among those given priority to receive the vaccine.

Hospitals are poised to deal with a surge in swine flu cases, the HSE has said.

Dr Paul Kavanagh, Specialist in Public Health, said the situation had changed this week with an acceleration of swine flu activity.

Hospitals have plans to handle infection control and halt some less urgent services if necessary, he said.