25 Jun 2009

Vanuatu admits challenge as swine flu found in local children

3:28 pm on 25 June 2009

Vanuatu's health ministry says its services would not be able to cope with a mass swine flu outbreak.

This comes as Vanuatu has just confirmed its first cases of swine flu in two local children that have not been overseas.

The director of public health, Len Tarivonda, says that suggests the virus is spread within the community.

Mr Tarivonda says they have sent another 16 swab tests to Australia for testing this week and are considering to move from the policy of containing the virus to managing it, should they prove positive.

"With one or two cases we can cope. But say suddenly you have an influx of cases due to the fact that the health system is general is weak anyway we would have problems in managing a large number of people. If you have large numbers, then we are not prepared to cope with that sort of number."

Len Tarivonda says Vanuatu has about 5,000 doses of the anti-viral drug, Tamiflu, which could cover about two percent of the population.