27 Apr 2009

WHO says Pacific Islands countries need to ready for possibility of swine flu hitting

1:57 pm on 27 April 2009

The World Health Organisation says it's highly likely swine flu will reach the Pacific.

In New Zealand 9 students and a teacher have tested positive for what is likely to be the virus after a school trip to Mexico, where swine flu has killed more than 100 people.

Medical Officer at the South Pacific WHO, Dr. Jacob Kool, says Pacific countries have been advised over the last few years to make contingency plans in the event of such a virus hitting.

"I think it's inevitable that some countries at least will get this illness. We don't know yet how severe this illness is. Is it really so severe as in Mexico or is it not as severe? So if it hits the Pacific I think the Pacific is a very vulnerable area. Countries only have limited stretch of their health-care system of their public services. So if there is a lot of absenteeism because of illness a lot of essential services might break down."

Dr. Jacob Kool says it's important health care workers and the public are fully informed about the illness.