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FED: Cruise ship passengers cleared of swine flu

24 May 2009 2:12 AM
Subject: FED: Cruise ship passengers cleared of swine flu FED: Cruise ship passengers cleared of swine flu

SYDNEY, May 24 AAP - A 15-year-old Melbourne boy has become Australia's latest swine flu case, but four cruise ship passengers tested amid a swine flu scare on arrival in Sydney have been cleared of infection.

The suspected cases were among 2,000 passengers and 900 crew who were quarantined for more than five hours on Saturday aboard the 77,000-tonne luxury liner Dawn Princess.

A spokeswoman for NSW Health said all four tested negative for influenza-A and there was no need for additional testing for swine flu.

They had all shown mild flu-like symptoms and were asked to remain in Sydney and stay away from other people until the test results were confirmed.

Dawn Princess had returned to Sydney from a 35-night Pacific cruise during which it had stopped in the Hawaiian islands for three days in early May.

Meanwhile, Victorian health authorities confirmed Australia's 14th swine flu case, and the state's ninth, on Saturday, with a 15-year-old boy from Melbourne's northern suburbs diagnosed with the H1N1 virus.

Twenty-five classmates of the year nine student from Mill Park Secondary College in Melbourne's outer north have been put into home quarantine and given antiviral drugs.

Health authorities are continuing to investigate how the boy, the latest community-acquired case, contracted the disease.

He has no travel history or any link to anyone else who has a travel history, Victoria's Health Minister Daniel Andrews told reporters in Melbourne.

The boy had also had no known contact with the other eight confirmed cases in the state.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has admitted that Friday's decision to lift the flu alert level from delay to contain, which allows authorities to close schools if students are at risk, will be disruptive but necessary.

Mr Rudd said on Saturday the government will continue to maintain the "closest possible dialogue" between Australia's chief medical officer Jim Bishop and his state and territory counterparts.

Professor Bishop said that unlike the more severe cases experienced in some other countries, the Australian cases have tended to last only three to four days "and people aren't particularly ill with it".

"It is however a spectrum of disease which we've mainly seen the mild end," Prof Bishop told reporters in Canberra on Saturday.

"But the overseas information would be there's both a mild end and a nasty end and the nasty end relates to certain types of people which are at certain types of risk."

Those tended to be younger people, pregnant women and people prone to respiratory illnesses.

Prof Bishop said because Australian authorities had successfully delayed the virus entering the country, they had been able to learn a lot about it since the first cases were reported in Mexico.

Describing it as a disease "of young people", he said that unlike the ordinary flu, the H1N1 virus did not affect old and debilitated people.

In addition to Victoria's confirmed cases, there have been two in NSW, two in South Australia and one in Queensland.

More than 11,000 cases have been confirmed worldwide.

AAP mn/jnb/ao =0A

FED: Cruise ship passengers cleared of swine flu