Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant or accept liability for the accuracy or usefulness of the transcripts. These are copied directly from the broadcaster's website.
Swine flu 'could kill 6,000' this year -

View in ParlViewView other Segments


LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: The toll keeps rising, with the Government now saying that up to 6,000
people could die from swine flu this year.

Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon describes it as a worst case scenario, but says it's a number
experts agree on.

Pregnant women are being urged to be extra careful, with a number of expectant mothers in intensive
care with swine flu.

Michael Troy reports.

MICHAEL TROY, REPORTER: The national toll from swine flu has risen to 29, with pregnant women the
latest group advised to take extra precautions.

PREGNANT WOMAN: I'm not scared - not worried at all.

PREGNANT WOMAN II: There is many other precautions with pregnancy that I'm more focused on at the
moment than a cold.

MICHAEL TROY: Not all pregnant women have been so fortunate, with six in Sydney recently put on
life support after contracting swine flu.

BILL RAWLINSON, VIROLOGIST: We know that very high temperatures that go with influenza can cause
severe problems in the baby.

KERRY CHANT, NSW CHIEF HEALTH OFFICER: We really want to get out the message that pregnancy is a
risk factor, and it's really important that pregnant patients seek care.

MICHAEL TROY: The advice is that expectant mothers should avoid crowds and seek immediate treatment
if they suspect they may have some of the symptoms.

KERRY CHANT: If they could prioritise their own health at this very important time, I think that's
incredibly important - to seek care early.

MICHAEL TROY: The World Health Organisation has now described the spread of the virus as
unstoppable and it's unclear how bad it will get here.

Yesterday, an estimate of 10,000 to 20,000 deaths from swine flu was described by Health Minister
Nicola Roxon as ludicrous. However, this morning the numbers were not so distant.

NICOLA ROXON, HEALTH MINISTER: Well, we've made public the projections that are based on this
disease and the best advice we currently have. That is if no medical interventions were taken, so
if there were no anti-viral treatments and if there were no vaccine, that we could expect around
6,000 deaths across the country.

MICHAEL TROY: The Health Minister stresses this would be a worst-case scenario, but there's no
doubt it's an exceptional flu season.

ALAN HAMPSON, INFLUENZA SPECIALIST GROUP: Well, given that we normally see something like 1,500 to
2,000 deaths a year, I think we could expect maybe a doubling or maybe a further increase over and
above that.

MICHAEL TROY: In a normal year, flu claims mainly elderly victims. It's the death of young,
otherwise healthy people that has authorities around the world worried and urging precautions.

The death of a six-year-old girl in Britain has sparked panic there and fast-tracked a vaccination

ANDY BURNHAM, BRITISH HEALTH SECRETARY: By the end of this year we expect to have around 50- to
60-million doses of vaccine, so enough to put in place a very serious program of vaccination.

MICHAEL TROY: Britain is the hardest-hit nation in Europe, with 10,000 confirmed cases and 17

The Australian Government says if the virus takes a turn for the worse here, then they too will
consider bypassing human trials, distributing a vaccine as quickly as possible.