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ABC Asia Pacific News -

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The death toll from swine

flu continues to rise. Colombo

refusing humanitarian aid into

its conflict zone. The end of

slashing an era as General Motors

slashing thousands of jobs. And

Australia hangs on to snatch

victory against Pakistan.

Good morning. Beverley

O'Connor with ABC News for

Australia Network. The World

Health Organisation has raised

its pandemic alert from Level 3

to 4 as the swine flu spreads

to other countries. Level 4

means the virus is showing means the virus is showing a

sustained ability to pass from

human to human, and has the

potential to cause

community-level outbreaks. Mexico says nearly 150 people

are believed to have died from

the virus. It has also spread

to the United States, Spain and

Britain. Mexico's government is

warning that it expects the

number of cases to rise. The

World Health Organisation is

if preparing for all scenarios. So

if we look at the move and the

change from phase 3 to phase 4,

what this can really be

interpreted as is a significant

step towards pandemic

influenza, but also it is a

phase which says we are not

there yet. In other words at

this time, we think we have

taken a

taken a step in that direction

but a pandemic is not

considered inevitable at this

time. Their scientists are

tracking the virus's spread and

the organisation's global

outbreak alert and response

network has been activated. An

epidemic officially becomes a

pandemic at phase 6, meaning at

least two countries in the same region have confirmed

human-to-human

transmission. The situation is transmission. The situation is

fluid, and the situation

continues to evolve. The

Mexican Health Minister

addressed the nation to break

the news of more fatalities but

the press conference was shaken

even further by an earthquake.

The country heard about 150

people's deaths could be linked

to the swine flu. to the swine flu. The minister

also announced schools will

close until 6 May. The

government's also planning to import more anti-viral drugs.

The two available appear to

have some effectiveness so far.

At least one of Mexico's

neighbours appears ready to

help although they have their

own problems. We do believe

that our efforts

that our efforts are develop ed

and prepared to confront this

wherever it might occur inside

our own country, and enhanced

cooperation across boundaries

will be very important. We are

closely monitoring the emerging

cases of swine flu in the

United States. And this is

obviously a cause for concern

and requires a heightened state

of alert. But it's not a cause of alert. But it's not a cause

for alarm. US doctors are

investigating an outbreak in

New York. The virus also

appears to have travelled as

far as the Middle East. I'm

holding in my hand a sample of

several boxes of Tamiflu. And

Europe. We just got the

confirmation from the Spanish

health authorities that we have the

the first confirmed case of the

virus in the European Union. Travellers returning to

Australia have been warned what

to expect. Those returning from

the Americas are being screened

for the A-H1N1 strain. Already,

five people in New South Wales

are being tested. They shared a

flight with a New Zealand

school group who contracted the

flu. More than 300 people were

on that flight. It's unlikely on that flight. It's unlikely it would spread through the

whole plane. In general, the risk would be more for people

that are sitting nearby. Other

passengers and crew from the

flight now in New Zealand are

being treated with anti-viral

medication. There are further

concerns for Australia, New

Zealand and other Southern

Hemisphere countries, as Autumn

heralds the start of the flu

season. The key thing is for us

to raise awareness for people

who've been travelling in Mexico and the Americas

Mexico and the Americas if they

arrive back home to not just

brush off some flu-like symptoms. It's quite clear that

there is the potential for this

virus to become a pandemic, and

threaten globally, but we

honestly don't know. We don't

know enough yet about how this

virus operates. But we do know

the virus spreads more easily

in cold weather.

Across in Europe, Spanish health officials health officials have confirmed

the first case of swine flu,

adding to other cases in

Britain. Europe correspondent

Philip Williams reports. In this hospital in southern

Spain, there was confirmation

of Europe's first case of swine

flu. A 23-year-old man who

arrived last Wednesday from

Mexico. Passengers arriving at

Madrid airport from Mexico were

taking no chances. I did it taking no chances. I did it

because I'm now pregnant. So

for a while, I will be

careful. The number of disease,

the number of people already

infected is quite high, but

somehow we are quite worried. Health officials in Europe were clearly worried and advised

would-be travellers to Mexico

to think again. Personally I'd

try to avoid non-essential travel to the areas which travel to the areas which are

reported to be in the centre of

the cluster in order to

minimise the personal risk and

to reduce the potential risk to

spread the infection to other

people. In Scotland, two

people already hospitalised

were confirmed Britain's first

cases. More were being tested

for virus. When Australian

journalist Kate Corbett returned from

returned from a wedding in

Mexico with some flu symptoms

she was told simply to stay in

her London home. It's jump

watching the news and hearing

more and more details about it

makes me more and more

paranoid. So I'm trying not to

watch too much. The race is

now on to develop a vaccine,

but that's at least six months

away, if at all, and in the

months ahead even cautious

experts wash a pandemic is a

real possibilities. We haven't had

had a flu pandemic since 1968.

We're overdue one. And we can't

rule out the possibility that

this swipe flu outbreak in

Mexico and the United States is

the first step towards a

pandemic. There is no sense of

panic but there are a couple of

trendess merging. Anecdotally

chemists we've spoken to have

reported sales of masks and

anti-virals are anti-virals are booming.

And China is bracing itself

for any potential outbreak of

the swine flu. Authorities have

banned imports of pork products

from Mexico and the United

States. China has been dealing

with another disease outbreak

in the last few weeks. Hand,

foot and mouth disease, which

has claimed the lives of 18

children in China over the last month or so. month or so. So the news of

another potential disease

outbreak here in China comes at

a particularly bad timing for a

country that already has a few

concerns. That said, the

authorities have already got on

top of this swine flu potential

outbreak. They've banned the

importation of certain pork

products from Mexico and from

the United States. Even though pork hasn't pork hasn't been proven to

cause the swine flu in human

beings. Airline passengers are

being told if they develop flu-like symptoms after getting

off an international flight,

they have to report to a

hospital here in China.

Hospitals in general are being

told to look out for these

flu-like symptoms. As you can

imagine, it's quite a imagine, it's quite a concern.

The Chinese Government has

faced criticism. During the

SARS outbreak it was criticised

for sweeping the outbreak under

the carpet, thereby making the

outbreak worse. It's trying to

address its image problem here

by getting right on top of this issue even though the health

threat at this stage is quite low.

The international community

has welcomed a move biff the

Sri Lankan government to stop

the use of heavy weapons in its

fight with the Tamil Tiger

rebels. Anger is rising,

however, over Colombo's refusal

to allow humanitarian hide into

the conflict zone. The Sri

Lankan government has ordered

its military to stop using its military to stop using

heavy weaponry. The international community,

including the US, EU and India

have welcomed the news, but the

United Nations humanitarian

chief is sceptical. The idea of

not using heavy weapons would

be genuinely respected this

time which it's not been in the

past. The UN envoy's fears

were echoed in London, where

six people were arrested after

protests turned violent outside protests turned violent outside

the Sri Lankan and Indian High

Commissions. It's supposed to

stop the war in Sri Lanka from

happening and they are fully

aware of what was happening

there and instead of stopping it they are really supporting

Sri Lanka. India's approaching

to the neighbouring conflict

has so far been diplomatic. It

sent two envoys last week to

appeal for a ceasefire, which

went unheard. But pressure from

Tamil voters in India is

starting to show. Sri Lanka may

- the situation for Sri Lankan

Tamil citizens is a concern.

England ya has clearly said that Tamils living there ought

to get full and equal rights.

As the Sri Lankan government

closes in on the remaining

rebels, the European Union is

pushing for a greater effort

for the refugees. Britain is announcing announcing more money today,

France is opening a field

hospital, but this is a

humanitarian crisis that needs

to be tackled with real urgency

and we will be discussing that

with the government of Sri

Lanka. For the UN humanitarian

envoy, there's only one

solution. The key point is when

this conflict comes to an end,

it will be much better if it

ends without more civilian

bloodshed. The Tamil Tiger say

the government has already violated its

violated its small-arms promise by continuing air strikes.

Pakistan's President Asif

Ali Zardari has ruled out the possibility his country's nuclear weapons will fall into

the hands of the Taliban. He's

also heightened speculation

that Osama bin Laden may be

dead. The Taliban advanced

toward Islamabad in recent weeks has led to accusations

from the United States that

Pakistan is abdicateing to the Pakistan is abdicateing to the

militants. It's also raised

fears about the vulnerability

of Pakistan's nuclear weapons.

But President Zardari insists

that the control and command

system in place is strong. I

want to assure the world that

the nuclear capability of

Pakistan is under safe hands.

It's not a Kalashnikov. Nuclear

technology is a huge subject.

So it's not that one little Taliban can come down and press

a button. There is no

butts-on. Questioned about the

whereabouts of Osama bin Laden,

President Zardari said US intelligence continues to

insist that he's most likely in

Pakistan, but they also tell

him they have no trace of his whereabouts. My own

intelligence is of the same

opinion. They don't know? That

there is no news. I mean, they

obviously feel that he does not

exist any more. But that's not

confirmed. So we can't confirm.

That The Pakistani military

say they're confident they can

tackle the current threat,

although they need better

equipment if they're to defeat

Taliban militants operating in

northern districts. What we

require is a political will.

What we require is a quick mobility like mobility like air mobility,

look good surveillance systems,

like night-vision capability to

the military, like fast-moving

ground mobility vehicles and

better equipped communication.

All this would give us an edge

over the militants. The

security forces are currently

targeting militant hide-outs targeting militant hide-outs

close to the Afghan border with

helicopters and artillery.

Nearly 50 suspected militants

are said to have been killed

and many residents in the

north-western district of Dare

are fleeing from their homes. A

Taliban spokesman in the Swat

Valley has denounced the

operation, claiming it violates their recent peace deal with

the Pakistani government.

Taliban insurgents have

attacked a government building in northern Afghanistan in northern Afghanistan and

claimed to have abducted 10

officers. The attack occurred when Britain's Prime Minister

Gordon Brown was in the

country. He has described

Afghanistan's border area with

Pakistan as the start of a

chain of terror. During his

previous stopover, Gordon Brown

toured British bases in southern Afghanistan and discussed strategy with

President Hamid Karzai. He said

it was in the West's interests to continue to assist Afghanistan in the campaign

Afghanistan in the campaign against insurgents. It's

absolutely clear that there is

a chain of terror that starts

in these border areas and

sweeps right across the world

and it's clear, therefore that

we cannot sit by and allow this

epicentre of terrorism to continue to exist without

taking further action. Already

the second largest contributor

to the NATO force in the country, Britain country, Britain has committed

to increasing that number from

around 8,000 to nearer 9,000

for the duration of the Afghan

elections. Province by

province, Afghanistan will

reassert its over control over

Afghanistan. It started can

Kabul, it will go right across

the country. That will take

time, but at same time, we must

have Pakistan and Afghanistan

working together to deal with this terrorist

this terrorist threat. Security

is an area where we still face

problems. It's not the return

of the Taliban; it's the

continuation of threats to

security that we are facing,

that we are trying to remove,

and defeat. Good to see you. From Kabul, From Kabul, Mr Brown moved on

to Islamabad, where he spoke of

a new chapter in Britain's

relationship with Pakistan, and

the beginning of a strategic

dialogue after talks with Prime

Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani. We

will stand up to the extremists

are. Together we'll reverse

this trend and take them on.

Mr Brown says there will be

increased cooperation in

counter-terrorism between the

two countries. He's announced a two countries. He's announced a

$15 million aid package that

will focus on education in the

border areas. You're watching ABC News for

Australia Network. Coming up -

the cost of a flight of fancy

into space. And - Australia's

$14 billion fashion industry

putting on a glamorous front. Car

Car maker General Motors has

announced 21,000 jobs are to go

from its American factories,

and one of its most famous cars

the Pontiac will cease

production. GM says a major restructuring deal for the

company will mean that the US Government effectively becomes

the major stake holder. For the

world's largest car maker

General Motors, the

restructuring is one of its

greatest setbacks in its 100

year history. Company

executives confirmed that GM's

survival is at stake if it

doesn't work. 21,000 jobs on

the production lines in the

United States will go, and

there are expected to be

implications in other countries. General Motors will

speed up the number of planned

factory closures, leaving it

with just 34 production lines

by the end of next year. The

car maker has come to

car maker has come to the

realisation that just being big

is not good enough. So I think

we will be global, global in a

different way, but I think we

will be lean, flexible, very

customer focused. And really

get behind and win with four

core brands. GM is currently

being propped up by $15 billion

in loans from the US

Government. It has until 1 June

to make the restructuring work.

If it has any hope of more If it has any hope of more

government money. Otherwise the

company could be forced into

bankruptcy protection. The US

Government says it hasn't

decided yet on taking GM stock

for part of its loans. One of

General Motors' fabled muscle

cars, the Pontiac, is to be

sacrificed. We were going to discontinue production of the

pont yak brand by no later nan

2010. After 83 years of

driving pleasure, driving pleasure, the Pontiac

will just be a motoring memory.

The Japanese government says

it needs US $159 billion to

finance a new stimulus package.

Prime Minister Taro Aso's

government presented the budget

to the Parliament. He says the

measures will help prevent the

country's economy from getting

worse. The announcement also worse. The announcement also

comes after the government

predicted its economy would

shrink by 3.3%. It's blaming

plummeting exports. Richard

Branson's Virgin brand is

making another sales pitch to

tourists interested in space

travel. So far there haven't

been too many take yes, and

that's because it will cost you

$285,000 and that's just for a

couple of minutes among the stars. Something is stars. Something is strange.

Richard Branson bran has not

arrived by parachute, jetski or

yak-back. There's no space

costume, no flowing hair, no

flashing teeth. Most of you

know what Richard is. His

presence is purely two

dimensional. We're here to

learn terms such as upkale

travel, the life experience

business, space travel. It's

the ultimate in being able to

detach ourselves from this

earth for a moment. Four years earth for a moment. Four years

ago Branson orbuilted into

Sydney to say his commercial

space travel would happen this

year. It won't. Today it's

still pretty difficult for

anybody to get into space. So

get more punters excite ed in the middle of the GFC, we were

shown vision from space shot

from a prototype five years

ago. Now on offer, two hours up

and back for just two minutes

in space. And the spacecraft

will run apparently on old car

tyres and nitrous oxide. We

have two fuels. One was rubber,

tyre rubber, and worth is

nitrous oxide, otherwise known

as laughing gas. Now who's

laughing? But enough of the

technology. Meet Glynis, a

little Aussie battler. She owns little Aussie battler. She owns

frock shops in Queensland and

has paid her 10% deposit on the

thrill. I just love planes! If

it happens, chances are we will

all be a bit older. Not that

that worries Glynis. In fact

that's part of the plan. She

bought the ticket to celebrate

her 60th birth day in 2012. How

perfect is that? In a word:

groovy!

Someone's happy! You're

watching ABC News for Australia

Network. Just recapping our top

story - in developing news,

South Korea has just confirmed

Asia's first human case of

swine flu, as the World Health

Organisation raises the alert

level from 3 to 4.

Let's check financial

markets now. Overnight n the

United States, both the Dow and

Nasdaq closed lower in reaction to the swine flu fears.

Sport now. Australia has

beaten Pakistan in the third of

five one-day matches in Abu Dhabi. Michael Clarke was the

only batsman to make a half

century as his team struggled

to make 198 on a slow pitch.

Pakistan then slumped from 0/95

to being bowled out for 171.

Australia's captain Michael

Clarke was named man of the

match after taking 3/15 to add

to his 66 off 93 balls. Clarke

says they were confident Pakistan

Pakistan would struggle against

the Australian spin attack.

Veteran Australian cricketer

Adam Gilchrist hit 44 off just

19 balls to help the Deccan Cam

chargers to a six-wicket win in

the Indian Premier League.

South African Herschelle Gibbs

hit an unbeaten 69 as the

Chargers beat Chennai to move

to the top of the table. The Kolkata Knight Kolkata Knight Riders and the

Mumbai Indians were both

seeking a second win when they

met. After winning the toss an

choosing to bat first, Jayasuriya displayed some flair

with the bat as did Sachin

Tendulkar who hit 68 to guide

Mumbai to victory. Now here's

how the weather is shaping up

for our Tuesday.

Is fashion still in fashion

during an economic crisis?

Australian designers certainly

hope so. They're offering

plenty of glamour during

Fashion Week in Sydney. Even though there are fewer shows

this year, more than 100

international buyers have turned up. They're turned up. They're on the

look-out for clothes that will

suit budget-conscious women.

Now dubbed recession-istas.

This is the defiant face of

the fashion industry. The

designers Camilla and Mark set

an upbeat tone in the opening

parade. I think more than ever,

the show must go on. Businesss

have to do business and

Australians are pretty

resilient. They're getting

involved. For the makers of

fashion, style is serious

business. And getting it right

this year is more important

than ever. This is the point

where we've got to either make

it or break it. So it's forced

me as a designer to think

smart, use good fabrics, great

cuts, sellable piece, stuff

that people can get maximum

wear out of. Fashion Week

comes as the industry's bracing

for another difficult year.

Already brands including

Morrissey and Herringbone are

closing their doors and experts

say more could follow. This is

a very difficult year. For example, you're seeing terms

like the recession-nista being

thrown around. Now it has to

deal with a downturn in

consumer spending. That's

expected to last until at least

the end of 2010. Industry

veterans Nikki and Simone

Zimmerman have built a thriving

export business. They say the

weaker dollar has help and

Internet sales are doing well

but their wholesalers are under

enormous pressure as consumers

tighten the purse strings. You

can't see immune to what's

going on. You hear the effects

of people that are losing their

jobs. These are really serious things. So this year, staying

in the black is the new black!

You've been watching ABC News for Australia Network. Before

we go, let's check our top

stories again. South Korea

confirms Asia's first human

case of swine flu as the World

Health Organisation raises the

alert level. And - Sri Lanka's

military agrees to stop using

heavy weaponry against Tamil

Tigers to try to ease the

refugee crisis. That's the

bulletin. For now news and

current affairs from the region

you can check out the web site. I'm Bev O'Connor. Thanks for

your company. We'll see you soon.

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