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Indonesia concerned Australians bringing swine flu to Bali

Australia reports third swine flu-related death
Australia announced its third death related to swine flu Wednesday as the virus spread rapidly through Aboriginal communities and the country's tourists were warned off Indonesia's popular Bali island. A 50-year-old bone marrow cancer patient died after contracting the H1N1 virus, becoming the third person with swine flu to die in just five days. None of the causes of death has been made clear. "The woman died early today at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, where she has been a long-term patient receiving treatment for cancer," said Daniel Andrews, Victoria's health minister. All three patients had serious underlying medical problems. On Friday, a 26-year-old Aboriginal man became the first person with swine flu to die followed by another man, aged 35, a day later. As the national caseload reached 2,873, officials said the disease was spreading quickly through remote Aboriginal communities in Australia's vast desert centre. Authorities kept up their warnings that the impoverished Aborigines, who often suffer poor health, could be particularly at risk. Most of Tuesday's 16 new cases were indigenous people, they said. "We all know and we all fear that if this particular flu gets into remote communities and takes a very strong hold then there will be many deaths," said Australian Medical Association spokesman Paul Bauert. "Some of the underlying health problems in communities, such as diabetes and renal disorders, make Aboriginal people extremely vulnerable to the virus," he added. Australia's 520,000 Aborigines make up about 2.5 percent of the population, but have a life expectancy 17 years shorter than the national average. They also have higher rates of imprisonment, child mortality and alcoholism. Meanwhile Indonesia expressed concern about Australians visiting the resort island of Bali after the country's first two cases were confirmed there. "Honestly I'm very worried about people who come from Australia," said Health Minister Siti Fadilah Supari. "We have to be more vigilant about Australian tourists so there won't be more cases of H1N1 from Australia. One is enough." A British woman who lives in Australia is recovering in a Bali hospital while a pilot who travelled to the island via Australia and Hong Kong has also been confirmed with (A)H1N1. Papua New Guineau's first swine flu case also flew in from Australia, which is the worst hit country in the Asia-Pacific region. Photo courtesy of AFP.
by Staff Writers
Jakarta (AFP) June 24, 2009
Indonesia expressed concern Wednesday that Australian tourists are bringing swine flu into the country via the resort island of Bali, as it confirmed its first two cases of the virus.

Health Minister Siti Fadilah Supari said she was "very worried" that Australians who flock to Bali's famous surf beaches would spread the virus in a country that had so far avoided the worst of the pandemic.

"Honestly I'm very worried about people who come from Australia," she told reporters at a press conference held to announce the first two confirmed cases in Indonesia, including a British woman who lived in Australia.

"We have to be more vigilant about Australian tourists so there won't be more cases of (A)H1N1 from Australia. One is enough."

The 22-year-old Briton was recovering in hospital in Bali after travelling to Indonesia from her home in the Australian state of Victoria, Dr. Agus Somia of Bali's Sanglah Hospital told AFP.

The second case, a 37-year-old Indonesian pilot, had travelled to Australia and stopped over in Hong Kong before being diagnosed with (A)H1N1 in Indonesia, Supari said.

Both patients had been isolated and were recovering, she said.

"No Indonesians have been infected with swine flu here. It has all come from outside," she said.

"Don't panic. It won't cause death but we should all be careful."

She said Indonesia was "taking specific action" at Bali's international airport at Denpasar, one of Indonesia's main entry points for foreign tourists, to monitor passengers for (A)H1N1.

Asked whether Australians were being subjected to extra health checks as they arrived in Bali, she said simply: "Of course, they will be checked too."

The health ministry's crisis centre chief, Rustam Pakaya, said there were no extra measures in place specific to Australian visitors.

"We've asked visitors from all countries to fill in health cards and it's also standard operating procedure for anyone experiencing a high temperature to alert cabin crew," he told AFP.

Australia is the worst-hit country in the Asia-Pacific region with 2,873 swine flu cases, more than half of them in Victoria. The country has recorded three swine flu-related deaths.

More than 310,000 Australians visited Bali last year, according to official figures.

Supari also voiced fears that (A)H1N1 could form a deadly combination with the H5N1 bird flu virus, which has killed more than 110 people in Indonesia.

Experts fear there is a small but real chance that a combination of genetic material from the two viruses could create a fast-spreading, highly-deadly hybrid strain.

"We don't want them to combine... because (a combined virus) will be as vicious as H5N1, or a little less, and will spread like (A)H1N1," the health minister said.

"If that happens, the world will be very scared. Indonesia is also very scared. That's why Indonesia is an extraordinary case and we're working very hard because we're worried about such a combination."

Indonesian authorities earlier in the year increased the use of body temperature scanners at airports and imposed a ban on the import of live pigs and pork products in a bid to combat the disease, which has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization.

A(H1N1), which emerged in Mexico in April, has killed 238 people worldwide and infected more than 55,000 people in over 100 countries, but no cases had been confirmed in Indonesia until Wednesday.

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US company makes first batch of swine flu vaccine
Washington (AFP) June 23, 2009
A US company that on Tuesday was awarded a 35-million-dollar contract to develop an influenza vaccine using insect cell technology has produced a first batch against (A)H1N1 flu, company boss Dan Adams said. "We turned out our first batch of doses -- about 100,000 -- against (A)H1N1 flu last week and we're continuing to manufacture it," Adams, chief executive officer of Connecticut-based ... read more







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