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Wednesday, 15 May 1957

Mr TOWNLEY (DENISON, TASMANIA) (Minister for Immigration) - The Government did consider sending some doctors to Singapore to study the outbreak of influenza there. But on the advice of Sir Macfarlane Burnet and the Acting Director of Health, Dr. Downes, it was decided that it would not be worthwhile doing so. The reason was that the chief of the Virus Laboratory in Singapore, Professor Hayles, had sent us details of the disease. He has also isolated the virus which is being sent by air to Australia, where we have men such as Dr. Bazeley, who are as good as anybody in the world on these matters. The epidemic in Singapore has affected about 10 per cent, of the people, and it is of a fairly mild type. There had been no deaths up to this morning when we had our latest report. The influenza is of type A. There are two types of influenza.

Mr Webb - Latest reports are that there have been several deaths.

Mr TOWNLEY - I do not know whether the honorable member gets his information from newspapers or from official sources. We are getting reports from official sources, and our latest advice is that there have been no deaths, which is surprising and an indication of the mildness of the disease in this epidemic, because normally there are occasional deaths from influenza. It must not be forgotten that there is quite a good deal of influenza in Australia at the present time. I would think that at least 10 per cent, of the people of this country are affected and, as far as my own family is concerned, the figure is 100 per cent.

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