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NSW: 77 NSW swine flu suspects isolated, given Tamiflu

01 May 2009 2:37 PM

SYDNEY, May 1 AAP - Anti-viral drugs have been given to 77 people awaiting test results for swine flu in NSW, and all have been asked to stay indoors.

Test results for the group will be available within 24 hours of samples arriving at testing centres in Sydney, NSW Health said on Friday.

But some will face longer waits due to the time it takes to get samples to Sydney from distant regions.

"Currently, people that meet the suspect case definition are being asked to be home-isolated," NSW's chief health officer Kerry Chant told reporters in Sydney.

"They're also being offered Tamiflu and obviously once we can exclude the diagnosis (of swine flu) they can cease taking that medication."

The suspected cases involve people who have returned from Canada, Mexico and the US and have developed flu-like symptoms within seven days.

They include three people tested on Friday morning at Sydney airport, where thermal imaging systems are being used to identify travellers who have fevers.

So far, there are no confirmed cases of swine flu in NSW, Dr Chant said. A total of 179 people had been tested, with 102 now cleared of infection.

Dr Chant said the increasing number of people being tested was not necessarily cause for concern.

"The global number of the people assessed to date reflects the fact that the community has really taken on the messages ... and are taking the matter seriously," she said.

"We really wanted to see a number of people who have these symptoms so that we're in the best position to detect the virus, should it be in Australia.

"And that enables us to act very quickly to put in any containment measures should it occur."

The 77 current suspected cases are scattered throughout NSW, reflecting the distribution of residents and overseas visitors, with 53 in metropolitan Sydney, 12 in the Hunter and New England region, eight in the greater southern region, two on the north coast, and two in the greater western region.

Dr Chant urged the community to remain alert.

"Anyone with flu-like symptoms such as fever, cough, fatigue, sore throat and a runny nose, who has returned from overseas within the past seven days, should first call their GP, local public health unit, or go to their emergency department," she said.