Containment strategies feature in new pandemic plan
The Australian Government has released an updated Australian Health Management Plan for Pandemic Influenza 2006.
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30 May 2006
The Commonwealth Government has today released an updated Australian Health Management Plan for Pandemic Influenza 2006.
While it is impossible to predict when a pandemic might occur, the possibility is real. The revised plan features strategies designed to delay and contain the spread of pandemic influenza until a vaccine is developed.
The new management plan builds on the interim Australian Management Plan for Pandemic Influenza issued in June 2005 and is a detailed national health action plan to guide Australia’s response to pandemic influenza.
Australia is an acknowledged world leader in preparing for an influenza pandemic and this new management plan draws on epidemiological modelling that suggests that during a pandemic, containment strategies could buy time until a vaccine becomes available.
Containment measures in the management plan that would need to be adopted early in the development of a pandemic include:
- escalating border control and quarantine measures to reduce the risk of overseas travellers bringing a pandemic virus into Australia, including potential restrictions on travel from affected regions if a pandemic emerges
- adoption of basic infection control like cough and sneeze etiquette, frequent handwashing and wearing of masks on public transport
- social distancing practices, like avoiding crowded public gatherings and short-term home quarantine for people exposed to an infected person
- the targeted provision of antivirals to people exposed or at continuous high risk of exposure to the virus rather than to broad categories of workers. This is to ensure the stockpile is used to best effect in slowing or stopping the spread of the virus and to ensure it lasts as long as possible.
The epidemiological modelling was considered by experts on the National Influenza Pandemic Action Committee (NIPAC), chaired by the Chief Medical Officer, Professor John Horvath, and its findings were affirmed by states and territories through the Australian Health Protection Committee in April 2006.
The management plan is designed to be accessible to a broad range of people and describes how pandemics occur, what the Government is doing to prepare for a pandemic, what the Government will do if it happens and what individuals, organisations and health practitioners can do to prepare.
The management plan is supported by a range of technical annexes that provide detailed information about infection control and clinical care. Additional annexes will be released regularly. The plan will also be updated as new clinical evidence or other management strategies are developed.
The Commonwealth and states are continuing consultations on cross jurisdictional planning and arrangements to prepare for and respond to a possible influenza pandemic in preparation for discussion at COAG in mid July. The AHMPPI is informing these considerations.
The Commonwealth Government has provided funding of $599 million since 2003 to protect Australians from potential outbreaks of human pandemic influenza and from the entry of bird flu into the country. This funding includes the creation last year of the new Office of Health Protection in the Department of Health and Ageing, which has played a key role in the develop of the new pandemic plan.
For a copy of the plan (and more comprehensive information on influenza pandemic) go to www.health.gov.au.
For further information phone free call 1800 004 599.
For more information call Mr Abbott's office on ph 02 6277 7220
Kay McNiece, Media Adviser, Professor John Horvath, 0412 132 585
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