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Fed: Swine flu cases hits 500 after another surge in Vic

By Melissa Jenkins
02 Jun 2009 9:03 PM

CANBERRA, June 2 AAP - The number of swine flu cases in Victoria has surged again, adding 89 in one day to push the national tally beyond 500.

And there are fears the number could soar again following Wednesday's State of Origin series opener at Melbourne's Etihad Stadium, where a near sell-out crowd of 50,000 is expected.

Officials last week discussed cancelling the game but that option was eventually ruled out.

As of Tuesday night, 395 people in Victoria had tested positive, including a sessional male teacher at Swinburne University's Croydon TAFE campus, which hosts about 1,800 students.

The teacher taught a short-course class of six students on May 23 and Swinburne learnt of the test result last Thursday.

"This teacher is believed to have been exposed to the virus while teaching at a school in Melbourne's northern suburbs," the university's executive director Michael Thorne said.

"The teacher has suffered mild flu symptoms, but is otherwise well. The Department of Human Services has contacted the six students who were in the class."

No classes at the campus have been cancelled.

Fourteen Victorian schools have closed, with the latest including Footscray North Primary School and Meadowglen Primary in Eltham.

Three schools are due to re-open on Wednesday - Canterbury Girls Secondary School, Peter Lalor Secondary and Roxburgh Park Primary School.

Some 776 tests are still pending in Victoria.

NSW is the next worst-affected state with 69 confirmed cases - five more than yesterday - followed by Queensland with 24 cases, South Australia with six, and the ACT with four, while Western Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory all have one case each, according to federal government figures.

Queensland Health reports 23 cases.

Meanwhile, a cruise ship has been caught up in a second swine flu scare, with New Caledonian authorities ordering the Dawn Princess to anchor offshore while five passengers and a crew member are tested.

The ship left Sydney early on May 24 with 1,996 passengers and 850 crew aboard for a 13-day South Pacific cruise which was due to wrap up in Sydney on Friday.

Passengers were scheduled to visit the port of Lifou on Tuesday, but when crew informed New Caledonian authorities six people on board were suffering flu-like symptoms, they requested no passengers be allowed to disembark.

The ill passengers and the crew member have been quarantined in their rooms, the ship's owner, Carnival Australia, said.

The ship had already travelled to ports in Fiji and Vanuatu before arriving at Lifou.

"As part of our standard pre-arrival health reporting procedures, we share with these authorities incidents of illness on board," Carnival Australia spokesman Anthony Fisk told AAP.

Officials from New Caledonia have collected swabs from the ill and the samples will be flown to Sydney and tested before the ship arrives there on Friday.

Four passengers aboard the ship during its previous voyage were tested for swine flu after it arrived in Sydney on May 23.

They were cleared of the virus, but the testing delayed the departure of the vessel by seven hours, leaving 2,000 passengers waiting to disembark and about the same number waiting to board.