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NSW woman tests positive to swine flu

  • May 9, 2009 - 10:18AM

Australia has its first confirmed case of swine flu.

But the NSW woman who arrived in Brisbane on Thursday on flight QF16 from Los Angeles is no longer infectious and had a weak strain of the virus, authorities say.

Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon said the woman, who cannot be identified for privacy reasons, contracted the disease in late April while overseas and had recovered before returning to Australia.

The woman identified herself to a nurse at Brisbane Airport, Ms Roxon said.

Results from the World Health Organisation laboratory in Melbourne came back positive at 1am today, she said.

"The strain of the flu has been identified in the sample but at a very low count,'' Ms Roxon said.

"This is clearly a serious development but we are in a situation where the best medical advice seems to indicate that this person wouldn't be infectious.

"This is a situation that we have constantly been advising the public was inevitable.''

Queensland's chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young said the NSW woman had tested "weak positive'' to the human swine flu influenza.

The expert advice is that the woman was no longer infectious at the time of boarding her flight to Australia, a Queensland Health statement said.

The woman began experiencing symptoms while in the United States on April 27 and arrived in Brisbane on flight QF16 on May 7.

She was screened and swabbed at the airport, given a mask and went to stay with her family, who live in Brisbane, while awaiting test results.

Queensland Health will contact the people sitting in the rows in front and behind the woman on the flight and will ask them whether they have any flu-like symptoms.

"But because we're taking every precaution, we will be contacting passengers from the same flight sitting close to the woman, and her close family, to check if they have had any illness and alert them to seek medical advice if they become unwell,'' Dr Young said in a statement.

"While advice from state and commonwealth experts is that other passengers are highly unlikely to become unwell because the woman was not infectious when she got on the flight, any other passenger on the flight with concerns can contact 13 HEALTH or visit their local GP.''

The WHO said yesterday that 2500 people in 26 countries had tested positive for the influenza A (H1N1) virus.

Some 567 people have been tested for swine flu in Australia and 544 have been cleared.

Eighteen people are still awaiting test results.

Australia's chief medical officer Jim Bishop has advised Ms Roxon that Australia should not step up its swine flu response measures.

Dr Young said personal hygiene remained vital.

"All Queenslanders can do their bit by following normal flu season hygiene procedures, such as regular hand washing, covering their nose and mouth if sneezing or coughing, and staying home if they are sick,'' Dr Young said.

AAP

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