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Indonesia Mobilizes to Combat H1N1 Flu Virus

Bali Uses Skills Learnt During SARS Crisis to Confront New Threat of Viral Pandemic.

(5/4/2009) As confirmed cases of H1N1 pass the 900 mark recorded in some 11 countries worldwide, cases of the disease feared by the World Health Organization (HMO) to become a worldwide pandemic remain confined largely to the western hemisphere, with a case of the disease now also identified in Hong Kong.

No cases or suspected cases of the H1N1 virus have been reported in Indonesia or Bali.

Also known as the "swine flu" due to it's genetic link to a viral infection found among some pig populations, and despite the banning of pork imports, the public is not at danger of contracting H1N1 through the consumption of pork products.

Using practical experience and infrastructures developed during the SARS scare, the Bali provincial government has wasted no time in putting into place a number of measures to prevent and control any possible local contagion of the disease.

Among the measures now in effect:

• Thermal scanners are now in operation at Bali's International Airport identifying passengers with higher than normal body temperatures.

• Medical teams are on duty at the airport to asses anyone suffering from flu–like symptoms.

• Special isolation wards set up to handle the SARS patients are on standby, ready to receive H1N1 patients.

• Governor Pastika has established a joint team comprised of health officials, animal husbandry agencies, transportation providers and other bodies who are charged with continual assessment of any developing threat to public health.

• As an added precaution, health officials are visiting swine production facilities and introducing disinfection procedures.

• Quarantine measures have been intensified at Bali's ports and airport.

• The government has temporarily suspended the importation of pork products.

• Supplies of anti-viral drugs are being identified for possible use if an outbreak should occur in Indonesia.

• Indonesia has issued a travel warning against unnecessary travel to Mexico.

The national government, meanwhile, has earmarked Rp. 40 billion (US$3.63 million) in emergency funds to be used in combating the H1N1 virus.