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Indonesia's approach to bird flu concerns Abbott
The Federal Health Minister Tony Abbott says he is concerned about Indonesia's efforts to manage and control the spread of bird flu.

There have been several recent bird flu deaths in Indonesia.
After releasing a revised plan to handle an influenza pandemic, Mr Abbott revealed his concern about Indonesia's approach to bird flu. "There is still not effective surveillance of poultry stocks, there could be improvements in reporting," Mr Abbott said.

But Australia's chief health officer John Horvath is playing down the concern. He says if there was a pandemic outbreak, the nation's proximity to Indonesia would not make much difference. "Where it breaks out it would be a worldwide event within 24 hours," he said.

Outbreak simulation

A major exercise involving the simulation of an influenza pandemic will be held later this year. Federal and state governments will take part in the four-day trial in Brisbane in October. It will simulate the arrival of an international passenger infected with pandemic influenza.

Mr Abbott says the plan also considers how to handle overseas travellers. "We would be requiring the captains of all incoming planes to make positive declarations as to the status of their passengers," he said. "Any plane that arrived with infected passengers would be placed in quarantine, what we wouldn't be doing though is ordering the shutdown of all international transport."

The Federal Government has changed its plans for allocating anti-viral drugs in the event of an influenza pandemic.
The Government had previously planned to give stockpiled medicines to a wide range of essential service workers if there was an outbreak of influenza, such as a bird flu pandemic. But a revised strategy released today proposes only giving the drugs to those infected, and health workers treating them.

Mr Abbott says the previous aim is not feasible. "We came to the conclusion in consultation with the states that the attempt to keep prophylaxis going for the up to 1 million people who would normally be deemed essential was simply not going to work, there would never be enough anti-virals to do so," he said.

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