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Swine flu FAQ

Victoria University is managing the ongoing outbreak congruent with Australian Government protocols and has developed the following frequently asked questions site to inform students, parents, university partners and staff about how the University is addressing and responding to key concerns about H1N1 Influenza 09 (Human Swine Flu).

On this page:

What is the current status of swine flu in Australia?

The Australian Government has announced a response phase to manage the outbreak of H1N1 Influenza 09 (Human Swine Flu) in Australia called PROTECT

The phase is consistent with the message from the World Health Organisation (WHO) when it lifted its Pandemic Alert to 6, that countries will need to adjust their responses due to the knowledge we now have that this disease is moderate in most cases.

Do I have to stay in quarantine after I arrive in Melbourne?

As the virus is now spreading within the country, the Australian Government has decided to focus the response on managing local cases. As of 22 June 2009, the move to the PROTECT Phase means a return to normal operations at Australia's international airports. Thermal scanners, clinical presence at airports and health declaration cards will not form part of the new response. However, airlines will still be required to provide mandatory reporting of sick travellers. 

What should I do if I feel sick after I arrive in Melbourne?

For advice, call the Human Swine Flu Hotline (calls can only be made within Australia): 180 2007 or read the Victorian Government health information about what to expect if you have Human Swine Flu.

What precautions should I take to minimise my risk of catching swine flu?

Human-to-human transmission of this flu occurs in the same way as seasonal flu occurs in people, which is mainly person-to-person transmission through coughing or sneezing of people infected with the influenza virus. People may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.  Good hygiene remains vital.

There are five simple ways to protect yourself and others from swine flu

Does getting the seasonal flu vaccination protect me from catching this virus?

Public health officials are unsure. It appears that it may not prevent you from catching this flu virus, but it might decrease the severity of your illness. It is still well worthwhile having the seasonal flu vaccination so that you are protected from other flu strains.

No vaccine has yet been developed for this Human Swine Flu; however researchers are working on one. You can get updates on vaccine research from the World Health Organisation.

Should I delay/defer my study because of swine flu?

The only people who need to stop their normal activities are:

  •   People who have acute respiratory illness (ARI)
  •   People who have been confirmed as having H1N1 influenza 09 (Human Swine Flu)

Is Melbourne at high risk?

The Australian Government response phase PROTECT recognises that the infection with H1N1 Influenza 09 is not as severe as originally envisaged - the virus is mild in most cases, severe in some and moderate overall. The overwhelming majority of patients are making a rapid and full recovery.

You can also view the current number of laboratory confirmed cases of Human Swine Flu in Victoria 

What should I do about swine flu when catching public transport?

Public transport has not been closed during previous pandemics, and while there is a small additional risk to the public, this is no greater than using other public places. Anyone who has the flu or feels unwell should stay at home and not travel. Older, frail and more vulnerable people should take extra precautions.

Swine flu spreads in the same way as ordinary colds and flu. For this reason, you should ensure you are vigilant and practise good hygiene at all times and try to avoid unnecessary contact on public transport.

Are public events in Melbourne being cancelled due to swine flu?

People who are unwell with flu-like symptoms should try to isolate themselves from others, to help protect their neighbours and the community. This includes staying away from gatherings and trying to limit the spread of the illness.

Gatherings of people at football matches, church services, concerts or on public transport, will not be discouraged during the PROTECT phase. This is because the disease is mild in most people. However there are two important considerations for people attending gatherings of large numbers of people.

What precautions is Victoria University taking because of swine flu? 

The University has a well-established action plan in response to Human Swine Flu.

  • The Pandemic Influenza Telephone Information Help Line operates from 8am-6pm (Australian Eastern Standard Time): +61 3 9919 5250 or (within Australia) 1300 472 888 (1300 HR AT VU).
  • Online training is available to educate staff and students.
  • Your first point of contact in cases of suspected Human Swine Flu is a designated responsible officer within your unit. 

Should I wear a mask in Melbourne?

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) does not recommend that healthy people wear facemasks to go about their everyday business because there is no conclusive evidence that facemasks will protect healthy people in their day-to-day lives.

The virus is spread by picking up the virus from touching infected surfaces, or by someone coughing or sneezing at very close range - so wearing a facemask will not make a difference.

There are also concerns about the risks posed by not using facemasks correctly. Facemasks must be changed regularly as they are less effective when dampened by a person's breath. Finally, wearing a facemask may encourage complacency. People need to focus on good hand hygiene, staying at home if they are feeling unwell, and covering their mouth when they cough or sneeze.

How effective is antibacterial hand gel in preventing swine flu?

Carrying around an alcohol-based hand cleaner is a good idea when you are unable to wash your hands with soap and water; however they are best used for convenience only. When attention is properly paid to all surfaces by washing with soap and water, correct hand washing with soap and water is the most effective.

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