State changes tack to combat swine flu

11/05/2018 Posted by admin

TASMANIA took a dramatic turn away from containing swine flu yesterday, joining a national shift to protect the community’s most vulnerable from complications of the virus. By next Friday, June 26, Tasmania will have abandoned home quarantine, closed flu centres and limited the distribution of tamiflu and testing to people at risk of serious illness. Healthy people will be asked to use over-the-counter medication and take responsibility for themselves, resting at home until their symptoms pass. Health Minister Lara Giddings said acting Chief Health Officer Dr David Boadle and acting Director of Public Health Dr Chrissie Pickin would oversee the change in the state’s response from focusing on containing the virus to protecting those most at risk. Swine flu will affect up to 50,000 Tasmanians, with 2 per cent expected to become seriously ill. It is expected that the large number of seriously ill will add to the usual winter flu burden on the state’s hospital system. Ms Giddings said Tasmania had bought time and learned more about the virus and is closer to a vaccine, likely to be available by late next month. “I urge Tasmanians to keep listening to and acting on the expert advice as we continue to do all we can to protect the community,” Ms Giddings said. Dr Boadle said that for most people human swine flu would be a mild illness. “But for more vulnerable groups in our community it can be severe, meaning our efforts and resources need to focus on protecting those people,” Dr Boadle said. Dr Pickin said while the measures taken in the contain phase had enabled Tasmania to prevent community transmission so far, the growing number of cases indicated it was time for the response to move on. Yesterday there were three new cases in the North-West and a fourth in the South. There are 16 probable cases. The statewide cumulative total of confirmed is 40 – 30 are considered active cases and remain in home isolation. “Until a vaccine is available we will be doing everything we can to protect those who have been shown to be particularly vulnerable to the virus,” Dr Pickin said. People vulnerable to the virus include pregnant women in the second and third trimester; those with respiratory diseases such as asthma or chronic obstructive airways disease; as well as people with heart disease, diabetes, renal disease and significant obesity. Also, from next week there will be no exclusion for students who have travelled to Victoria or overseas. “All people who are ill including students will still be asked to stay home for seven days after the onset of illness. This should happen with all influenza anyway,” Dr Pickin said. Dr Boadle said most Tasmanians should do what they normally do with the flu. “Keep up a good fluid intake, take medication to relieve symptoms and take action to reduce the spread of the virus.”LOWER THE RISK•Wash your hands often. •Use alcohol-based hand rub. •Cover your cough. •Try to keep a large step away from others in public. •Know the signs of fever, cough, sore throat. •Stay home if you’re sick. •Those who are concerned about the severity of their symptoms or who are at increased risk of complications of the flu should phone 1800 FLU DOC (1800358362).
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