The Australian Government’s response to the Swine Flu

It is hard to believe that some people are actually questioning the Government’s reaction to suspected Swine Flu cases. I personally applaud the Health Department’s decision to err on the side of caution.

In Australia, anyone suspected of having swine flu is told to stay home and have no contact with other people while testing for the illness takes place. If the pathology results are positive then treatment is given. This is eminently sensible.

This applies to people coming here on cruise ships as well as by air. Better be too diligent than pretend that nothing is wrong as happened in Asian countries which experienced the Avian Flu epidemic a few years ago. In that case, it took the authorities far too long to admit there was something wrong.

The result of the initial cover-up in Asia has been a good lesson for the Australian Health Department to treat this flu as a potential threat. It has learned that the safety of our citizens is more important than potential inconveniences to tourists and schoolchildren and their parents.

During the Avian Flu epidemic the Asian authorities were worried that the economy would suffer so they denied the gravity of the situation. They placed the economy above the safety of their people. So what was the end result of this denial? Well, we in the Western World are sceptical about Asian goods and Asian assurances that everything, including manufacturers as well as government health inspectors, are reliable. One only has to consider the denial that occurred over the tainted baby milk products to wonder how much danger is actually swept under the carpet.

My personal experience with unreliable Asian products is when I opened a can of Greenland, yes Greenland (great name for a Chinese manufacturer!) canned broccoli and found a putrid grey mass of slime that I had to throw out immediately. This brand of canned vegetables is still being sold in Woolworths and Safeways supermarkets, but not to me!

So if I am asked whether the actions of the Australian Government have been appropriate in the face of the possible threat of Swine Flu, my answer is “Better safe than sorry.” And if public venues and schools have to be closed in order to contain an epidemic, then so be it.

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