Australia offers swine flu test case

Australia is currently living through what the northern hemisphere will soon have to confront: a winter with swine flu.

Public health officials in countries like the UK and US are therefore looking upon Australia as a global case study, and seeing what lessons they can glean from the country’s handling of the pandemic.

Distance offered no protection for this far-flung country, and swine flu reached its shores in early May.

Since then, more than 40 people have died and more than 16,000 have been infected. There has been no sense of public panic, despite the fact that Melbourne for a time was dubbed the “swine flu capital of the world”, the city with the highest concentration of cases.

With New Zealand hit first, Australia had a few crucial weeks to refine its response.

It prepared public information adverts, warning people to be careful to wash their hands and quickly rolled out thermal-imaging cameras at international airports to try to identify air travellers arriving with the virus….

…Some affected schools have been shut, because Australia has realised that children are the so-called “super-spreaders” of H1N1.

Therein lies a lesson for the northern hemisphere, according to Professor Raina MacIntyre, from the University of New South Wales.

“Shutting schools is probably the key non-pharmaceuticals intervention and social distancing intervention that can have an impact,” he said…

Complete article at BBC News

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