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Fed: Swine flu tally hits 400, as Vic cases surge

By Melissa Jenkins
01 Jun 2009 7:02 PM

CANBERRA, June 1 AAP - Australia's swine flu tally has passed 400 as Victoria recorded a massive surge in cases, most of them children.

By Monday afternoon the number of confirmed cases in the state had risen to 306, an increase of 94 in 24 hours.

According to official federal Health Department figures there were 64 confirmed cases in NSW, 18 in Queensland, six in South Australia, four in the ACT, and one each in Tasmania, the Northern Territory and Western Australia.

Queensland Health officials however, late Monday, said the state now had 22 confirmed cases, the latest being teenage girls.

Most of the new cases in Victoria also involved young people aged five to 18, prompting a 12th Victorian school to be closed on Monday.

Two schools in Cairns also will be closed this week after two 13-year-old girls tested positive for the virus.

Eynesbury Senior College in Adelaide reopened on Friday after a seven-day closure.

Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon said the government was assessing whether to elevate the nation's response to the disease from the contain to the sustain phase.

Victoria is already preparing to move into the sustain phase, under which quarantining is limited to those who share a home with a confirmed swine flu patient.

In the contain phase, anyone who has had contact with a swine flu patient is quarantined voluntarily and given antiviral drugs for a week.

The nation's chief medical officer, Professor Jim Bishop, said the advice to people with flu-like symptoms may change as swine flu evolved.

At present, people who come down with flu-like symptoms, especially if they have recently travelled to an affected country, are being advised to seek medical advice.

Prof Bishop said in the future, fit and healthy people may be told to stay at home and only those in at-risk groups, including those with respiratory problems and asthma, will be advised to visit their GP.

"A lot of people that have these sorts of symptoms of course will, as this thing progresses, stay at home and not necessarily seek medical advice if in their own case it is a mild infection - and that we expect to see more of," he told reporters in Canberra.

"As we move along in this marathon race, what we will need to do is obviously identify those people that we're concerned about.

"If there is large numbers involved, we want to make sure the system is looking after people we most want to look after."

Five thousand face masks from the national stockpile were sent to Victoria on Sunday.

The swine flu-affected ship Pacific Dawn docked in Sydney at 8am (AEST) on Monday after NSW Health authorities gave it the all-clear.

The P&O ship was forced to cut short its trip to the Barrier Reef last week when three crew tested positive for the virus.

A senior NSW Health doctor and 25 nurses boarded the ship in Brisbane on Saturday, testing all 2,500 people on board during the two-day voyage to Sydney.

While disappointed the cruise didn't go to plan, passengers said they still enjoyed the journey.

David Geers, from Brisbane, joked it was the perfect place to be quarantined for seven days.

"If you had to be quarantined somewhere I couldn't have thought of a better place ... because we got fed, the drinks tasted the same and the staff were fantastic," he told reporters at Darling Harbour.

More than 15,000 people in 53 countries have tested positive to swine flu, with deaths totalling 99.