15 Jun 2009

Pacific concerns growing over ability to meet swine flu threat

7:41 pm on 15 June 2009

The Medical Society in Papua New Guinea says health staff are still waiting for test results from Melbourne to find out whether swine flu has arrived in the country.

PNG has quarantined nine people suspected of having the virus.

They're being treated with the antiviral drug, Tamiflu.

The society's president, Dr Mathias Sapuri, says if the virus does enter PNG, it will spread like a bush fire.

Mr Sapuri says the country must take extra measures now to ensure its containment.

"We are stepping up surveillance, through clinical detection at the airport and we are also advising clinicians, particularly in port areas, to ensure that doctors in these provinces are keeping a lookout for a possible entry through these ports."

Dr Mathias Sapuri says the country needs more doses of Tamiflu to ensure its 6 million people are safe.

A special swine flu taskforce has today asked the government to declare a state of emergency.


Samoa's Ministry of Health says it's waiting for more courses of the antiviral drug Tamiflu to cope with a possible swine flu outbreak.

The director general of health, Palanitina Toelupe, says a Melbourne school group of about 30 and six Samoan motel staff are still in quarantine.

Four students who are unwell are still waiting for the swap test results from New Zealand and are taking Tamiflu.

But Ms Toelupe says Samoa doesn't have enough courses of the drug to treat a mass swine-flu outbreak.

We only have about 1500 courses left. We are expecting some [2000-3000 doses] from the World Health Organisation and we are also hoping to receive some from the NZ/Australian partnership programme that they are doing through the Secretariat of the Pacific Community. The government through other means is trying to get some more.

Palanitina Toelupe says health staff are continuing to monitor all arriving visitors and have stepped up their public awareness campaign.


Swine flu is feared to have reached Honiara.

The Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation says there were reports that two people, allegedly infected with the H1N1 virus, were transported to hospital by Quarantine Officers from the Honiara International Airport.

The reports say the two had arrived from Australia.

The chairman of the swine flu preparedness taskforce, Dr Cedric Alependava, is ill and was not able to comment.


The Marianas Visitors Authority reported a 23 percent drop in tourist arrivals last month, largely due to the swine flu pandemic.

Records from the agency showed that visitor arrivals to the CNMI in May totaled just 24,000, compared to 31 thousand in the same period in 2008.

This means a drop of nearly a quarter of previous figures.

The Visitors Authority says while the CNMI had more air seats available in May than a year ago from its major markets of Japan and China, the downturn is largely caused by the impact of the H1N1 virus on outbound travel around the world.