29 May 2009

More swine flu cases expected in Australia

10:01 pm on 29 May 2009

The Australian government is warning that a sharp increase is expected in the number of swine flu cases there over the weekend.

The state of Victoria has recorded an increase in the number of confirmed swine flu cases, with 138 Victorians now diagnosed with the virus.

The Premier says quarantine measures are working, but Queensland's chief medical officer says Victoria's health authorities have lost control of the situation.

The 39 new confirmed cases come just hours after Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon warned Australians to expect the total number of infected people to climb.

Addressing a media conference earlier on Friday, Ms Roxon announced the total number of cases was 167, but it could now be over 200.

Seven schools are closed in Victoria.

Ms Roxon says while more cases are expected, the situation is under control.

But she says the community needs to realise those figures will continue increasing, probably significantly over the weekend.

Ms Roxon says it's still a very small number of people in the community and that health officials have been able to identify, isolate, treat and respond quickly to all of those cases.

Cruise ship

Health authorities in New South Wales are preparing for the return of the cruise ship the Pacific Dawn which has been linked to a large number of swine flu cases.

The Australian federal health department says about 50 people who travelled on the P&O ship are now known to have swine flu.

Meanwhile, a Sydney hotel which evicted two people who contracted the virus on the ship says its staff are now being checked.

Ms Roxon has expressed disappointment that guests are being asked to leave.

She says members of the hospitality industry, as well as the general public, need to be reminded that swine flu is a treatable disease.

Ms Roxon says it's possible to ensure the disease is not spread provided proper protocols are followed.