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Monday, June 8

Extra precautions to cope with swine flu-Government says

The government has taken more precautionary steps with new regulations to help manage an outbreak of Non Seasonal Influenza, such as Influenza A (H1N1) swine flu.

Regulations have been promulgated today, which add Non Seasonal Influenza (swine flu) to the schedule of the Health (Infectious and Notifiable Diseases) Regulations.Health Minister Tony Ryall says,

"This gives Medical Officers of Health legal powers if needed, to require people to isolate themselves at home and to exclude children and teachers from school, if they have swine flu or are in close contact with someone with swine flu."

"This is purely a precautionary step. Our experience to date is that all affected New Zealanders have been fully cooperative in isolating themselves. Further, in Australia, I am advised families have been cooperative when classrooms and schools have temporarily closed."

"This regulation does not allow for total school closures, which can only be invoked with an authorisation of special powers by the Minister of Health, or if an epidemic notice is in force. No such notice is in force," Mr Ryall says.Other diseases already on the schedule of these regulations include Hepatitis A and B, Measles, Meningitis, Ringworm, SARS, and Whooping Cough.

In recent weeks the Government has also added Non Seasonal Influenza to the schedule of notifiable and quarantinable infectious diseases, also as a precaution.

The number of confirmed cases of swine flu in New Zealand has increased from 10 last Wednesday to 17 today, and while the majority of new cases are from North America there is increasing risk to New Zealand with the rapid spread in Australia.

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