VICTORIA has passed the point where the spread of swine flu can be prevented and should immediately close every school in the state for a week to slow the progress of the virus, a federal government influenza adviser has warned.
There were last night 209 confirmed cases of swine flu nationally, with 138 cases in Victoria.
Tasmania also reported its first case.
Although seven Victorian schools have been closed in steps to contain the virus and a further 27 identified as "affected", governments and health authorities insist the scale of the outbreak does not warrant wholesale school closures or cancellations of major public events. But Raina MacIntyre, an infections diseases expert and a member of Australia's Pandemic Influenza Advisory Group, said yesterday the time had come to consider more drastic steps.
"We're at the stage now in Victoria where a blanket closure of all schools and pre-schools should be on the agenda and a decision needs to be made quickly," Professor MacIntyre told The Weekend Australian.
Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon conceded yesterday that the focus of Australia's pandemic response would invariably shift from trying to contain the virus to treating it.
It is interesting to see the number of schools that have been closed down around Victoria for the past few weeks. I have managed to mark all the schools that has been closed down (in red) and the schools that has been affected by swine flu but does need to be closed down (in blue).