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Maroons player contracts swine flu after Orig -

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Maroons player contracts swine flu after Origin 1

The World Today - Monday, 8 June , 2009 12:14:00

Reporter: Jennifer Macey

PETER CAVE: More than a thousand Australians have been now confirmed as being infected with swine
flu, and questions are being asked about why the disease has taken such a hold in Victoria where
there have been more than 800 confirmed cases.

Over the weekend, Western Australia, New South Wales, Tasmania and South Australia reported fresh

Some of those people had recently returned from Victoria.

Jennifer Macey reports.

JENNIFER MACEY: Thousands of people travelled to Melbourne for the State of Origin match last week,
raising fears that spectators packed into the stadium might contract swine flu.

But it was one of the players whose come down with the flu. Queensland's prop Ben Hannant has
tested positive for swine flu and will remain at his Gold Coast home.

The managing director of Queensland Rugby League, Ross Livermore, says their medical officer Roy
Saunders is considering what to do with the rest of the team, who have since returned to their
respective clubs.

ROSS LIVEMORE: Ben stayed on in Melbourne after the team dispersed, and then he went to the Gold
Coast. And we're talking Sunday night now, so Roy's not too sure as to whether there were
implications or not.

But you can only be careful about it. Roy will determine what the players should do - whether they
take tablets or get tests or whatever it might be.

JENNIFER MACEY: Queensland Health officials confirmed another eight cases of swine flu on the
weekend, bringing the state total to 45. Five schools across the state are shut due to the virus.

And Cairns State High in far north Queensland has kept its doors closed after another student was
confirmed with swine flu. Clive Dixon from Education Queensland says the school will reopen on

CLIVE DIXON: The Health Department has advised us that that's the period of time that the school
needs to be closed as a precaution in this particular case.

We also have an e-mail network, so the teachers can send work direct to the students.

And those students who are doing particular projects - particularly Year 12 students - there's even
the availability there to be able to phone teachers and to follow-up particular items at school.

JENNIFER MACEY: In Western Australia, where there are 12 confirmed cases, three schools have told
hundreds of students to stay home.

The headmaster at Christchurch Grammar in Perth, Garth Wynne, says year 7 is being shut down after
two students tested positive for swine flu.

GARTH WYNNE: We've supported the Health Department in providing class details and the like and then
the Health Department will act as appropriate.

We've got about 100 boys in year 7, and then there's a number of different staff that have been

JENNIFER MACEY: It's a move being copied around the country except in Victoria, which is no longer
closing schools if there's a confirmed case.

And while the rest of the country has confirmed cases of the virus in the double digits, Victoria
has the largest number, with 874.

But health officials still don't know why this is. Professor Robert Booy from the University of
Sydney says one explanation might be due to better testing strategies.

ROBERT BOOY: The truth is that Australia's probably the best in the world at detecting this
influenza virus. And so we have a tremendous bias going on, where we're finding most of our cases
through good laboratory detection, and the United States and other places, they're not even testing
everybody who probably have the disease.

I would be quite certain that there's ten to a hundredfold more cases in the US than are confirmed.
So it's totally, totally a bias of how we go about detecting disease, in that we're just so much
more thorough in Australia, and we pay much more attention.

JENNIFER MACEY: Professor Booy says it's ridiculous to blame Victoria for the spread of the virus
interstate and he says there's no need to restrict domestic travel.

ROBERT BOOY: Right now, we need to do sensible things. And saying that students who come back
should be quarantined is a good idea, because they are the ones who are the big spreaders of
disease right now. Trying to shut down the whole of commerce and business interaction is quite

JENNIFER MACEY: Professor Raina MacIntyre from the University of New South Wales says she's
surprised that the outbreak hasn't been more significant in New South Wales.

RAINA MACINTYRE: Once it starts spreading among school children, it spreads very rapidly. You know,
children excrete the virus for longer, they're more infectious. It doesn't appear to have affected
schools to the same extent in New South Wales. So that can be two big factors.

JENNIFER MACEY: Professor MacIntyre says swine flu still poses a real threat to high-risk people
such pregnant women or young people with chronic heart, lung or kidney conditions.

RAINA MACINTYRE: There's no evidence that it's less severe than seasonal flu, but we certainly need
to take seasonal flu as seriously, because there certainly is, are other strains of flu circulating
at the same time; in fact some of the labs in New South Wales are suggesting there's more seasonal
flu than swine flu.

I think people have kind of forgotten that seasonal flu is still a risk - and it is a risk.

JENNIFER MACEY: South Australian Health is also reporting that the 12th person to contract swine
flu in that state is a 26-year-old woman had recently travelled to Melbourne.

PETER CAVE: Jennifer Macey with that report.