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Bird flu posing increasing threat -

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(generated from captions) the latest outbreak is a sporadic epidemic. And the Australian Government is paying for 10,000 doses of the anti-viral drug Tamiflu to be sent to Indonesia. The important steps are certainly monitoring the flocks of birds and the culling of birds. That was effective in the 1997-98 outbreak in Hong Kong and it has helped in containing the outbreaks in Vietnam and Thailand. Australia's proximity to Indonesia is of great concern to virologists. Reaching Australia is a possibility. The airplane is one of the best ways of spreading infectious diseases because people with bird flu could possibly be on an airplane and, therefore, could come into any country. Birds from Indonesia also fly to Australia and we certainly hope that Australia will also be able to help us in this case because our destiny is bound to be united. The World Health Organisation says conditions are right for the virus to mutate and cause a pandemic. Here, the Government predicts millions could be affected. Health experts say, at worst, up to 100,000 Australians could die. Health Minister Tony Abbott is concerned, but says the country is well prepared. We have, on a per capita basis, the world's largest anti-viral stockpile. We are assembling a very large stockpile of syringes and surgical masks. We are working round the clock with CSL, one of the world's largest vaccine manufacturers, to produce a candidate pandemic flu vaccine. We have national and state and territory pandemic plans in place. But the Opposition is calling for a regional approach to the problem, including a summit to devise ways of tackling the threat. South-East Asia is Australia's frontline

in the fight against bird flu. We have to fight this problem in the region and I want to see more done by the Australian Government through its aid budget on this score. But a spokesman for the Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, says the Government is well advanced in developing a regional strategy to combat bird flu. Michael Edwards, Lateline. To the markets now. Now to the weather. And that's all for this evening. If you'd like to look back at tonight's interview