Queensland Premier Anna Bligh has activated the state\’s pandemic plan as at least 14 people presented with suspected cases of the deadly swine flu in the state\’s southeast.
Ms Bligh was briefed on Tuesday morning by health officials and the disaster management group and put in place the plan, which if escalated could see border screening and the cancellation of major public events. “The Queensland Health pandemic plan has been activated,” Ms Bligh said.
“We are in the standby phase, making sure we have all the resources available across government if we do have an outbreak.”
She said Queensland had to be ready for “the prospect of this virus spreading to all countries and particularly here in Australia”.
“This morning I convened the state disaster management group in readiness for a possible declaration of a disaster in the next couple of weeks,” she said.
“We have no cause to declare any disaster at this stage but we are making sure we are ready.”
Chief health officer Jeannette Young said two women – one in her mid 20s and one in her mid 40s – who were taken off a Qantas flight from Los Angeles that landed in Brisbane on Tuesday morning had been sent home with Tamiflu medication.
“Both of those people fell ill with flu-like symptoms,” Dr Young told reporters.
“They\’ve been ill in the last 24 hours and they\’ve had contact with people in Mexico.”
Qantas said another three people from the flight had also been screened by quarantine officials but cleared.
No aircrew had reported flu symptoms yet nor would they have to wear surgical masks, a Qantas spokeswoman said.
Four people were cleared over the weekend and Monday after presenting to Gold Coast and Brisbane hospitals.
Tests are underway on other patients with flu symptoms. There are no confirmed cases of swine flu in Australia.
Dr Young said if either of the Qantas passengers tested positive then Queensland Health would contact every other passenger on flight QF16 and people showing symptoms would be tested.
Ms Bligh said in the event of a serious outbreak, mass gatherings would have to be reconsidered.
“Clearly mass gatherings will have to be considered as will the activities of schools where you have large numbers of children and families gathering,” she said. Dr Young will hold a media conference in Brisbane at 11am (AEST) to provide an update on the situation. AAP ahe/peb/pjo/jpm