ABC Home | Radio | Television | News | Your Local ABC | More Subjects… | Shop

Swine Flu - Special coverage of the Swine influenza virus

Email

Rudd defends swine flu threat upgrade

Posted May 23, 2009 14:44:00
Updated May 23, 2009 15:23:00

There are now 14 people infected in Australia.

There are now 14 people infected in Australia. (Supplied: US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention)

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has defended the decision of health authorities to upgrade the threat level of swine flu as the number of confirmed cases continues to increase.

There are now 14 people infected in Australia after a 15-year-old boy from Melbourne's northern suburbs was diagnosed with the H1N1 virus.

The flu alert level has been lifted from "delay" to "contain", giving authorities in all states the option to close schools if students are at risk.

This means schools across Australia have the power to close if they are concerned about students at risk of contracting the virus and Mr Rudd says it is necessary to stop the virus in its tracks.

"This will of course inconvenience in certain communities as certain schools are temporarily closed down," he said.

"We understand that that imposes inconvenience on families.

"However, we also have a responsibility for the public health of the nation and therefore we will take actions are necessary to underpin the public health of the nation even if that involves inconvenience in certain locations."

He says the Government has acted in response to each recommendation put to it by professional health authorities around the country.

Mr Rudd says in some cases that will mean schools have to be closed down temporarily.

"We understand that that imposes inconvenience on families, however we also have a responsibility for the public health of the nation, and therefore we will take whatever actions are necessary to underpin the public health of the nation, even if that involves inconvenience in certain locations," he said.

Australia's chief medical officer, Professor Jim Bishop, says they are investigating how the latest person to develop swine flu caught the virus.

He says the 15-year-old Melbourne boy is one of four infected people who have not had contact with an overseas traveller.

"There would have been a pathway of someone who had travelled," he aid.

"This is a new virus to the continent so it would have come in through that way, remembering this is a very mild illness so a person who has a mild illness may not be febrile and may not have much except a bit of a sniffle."

Professor Bishop says it will be difficult for GPs to distinguish swine flu from the normal flu virus this winter.

"Almost every case they see will be ordinary flu as we think it's (swine flu) a very low load in the community," he said.

"But what we're going to be seeing this year is a lot more testing ... so we can sort of look to see what it looks like in our community through the flu season."

With the exception of a 51-year-old Mexican tourist, all Australia's swine flu cases are younger than 28, and more than half are school-aged children.

Tags: health, diseases-and-disorders, swine-influenza, australia, vic

News

ABC News Online staff member, Sarah Collerton

Swiney Todd

News Online's Sarah Collerton reveals the highlight of her day in swine flu lockdown.

7.30 Report

Crime novelist Laura Lippman in Australia for the Sydney Writers' Festival on May 27, 2009.

Yesterday's news

Crime novelist Laura Lippman laments the demise of newspapers in the internet age.

Blog

Beechworth fire sets mountains ablaze

Stay late or go early

The Royal Commission has brought up some disturbing memories for Black Saturday survivors.