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Australia to stay on flu alert

world Updated: May 05, 2009 09:52 IST
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Australia has said it will not reduce its efforts to prevent the spread of deadly H1N1 virus, despite accusations that global authorities have overreacted to the flu.

Health Minister Nicola Roxon said yesterday that although no cases had yet surfaced in Australia, a case was likely to arise in coming days.

Roxon and Chief Medical Officer Professor Jim Bishop were qouted by 'The Age' today as warning doctors to prescribe anti-virals according to the guidelines after some suppliers reported a twentyfold rise in demand for the drugs.

Bishop said doctors should only prescribe the drugs to people with the right clinical indications.

However, President of the Pharmacy Guild Kos Sclavos said overseas travellers with prescriptions were driving demand because doctors appeared to be telling patients to travel with the drugs in case they fall ill with flu symptoms.

Heavy demand meant some pharmacists had run out of supplies. This had created a three-day wait for scripts to be filled.

"About 1000 of the 5000 pharmacies the guild covers have run out," he said, adding that "I think it's a furphy to say that people are hoarding the drugs at home. I haven't heard anyone getting a prescription just in case it comes to Australia."

Sclavos said demand for facemasks had also increased. Roxon said the Government had been discussing the changing demand with manufacturers and still had a stockpile of 8.7 million doses.