Saturday, September 24, 2005



As of 3pm, Friday, Sydney time, at least twenty people, including five children, have been quarantined in a Jakarta Hospital, showing severe symptoms of the bird flu virus.

Panic has spread amongst visitors to the now closed Ragunan Zoo, where at least two children are believed to have contracted the bird flu virus.

The World Health Organisation is urging Indonesians not to panic.

A spokesperson claimed today the increased number of people with bird-flu symptoms did not necessarily mean the outbreak was spreading, or growing.

Reports on claim some 115 people who were at Jakarta’s Raganun Zoo in the days before it closed have turned up at the Jakarta hospital with symptoms, but have been turned away because they were not sick enough.

The hospital has limited resources and equipment to quarantine the sick, and at least one report out of Indonesia indicates the quarantine wards are already full.

An unknown number of patients were admitted in the early hours of this morning, ranging in age from one years old to fifty five years old.

Farmers who owned chickens that died last week have also arrived at the hospital seeking anti-virals and a confirmation on the symptoms they believe they are now exhibiting.

The Indonesian government’s claim of an epidemic on Wednesday was retracted Thursday and WHO spokespersons are backing away from their claims earlier in the week that time was running out before a bird flu pandemic begins.

Experts are flooding into Jakarta today for emergency meetings, to assess the situation as it stands and to discuss plans to contain the spread of bird flu.

Neither the Indonesian Government, the UN or the WHO are willing to announce that the bird flu virus has mutated into a form that can spread easily between humans, but curiously the WHO have come up with a theory for the cases where it appears almost certain the virus was passed from one family member to another, and was not contracted from contact with infected birds.

WHO's representative in Indonesia, George Petersen, told Rueters, "I think very close contact with a sick person might infect that caretaker. That is why in hospitals we need to take all precautions ... That would be, in a way, a human-to-human transmission, but that demands close, close contact"

Dr Margaret Chan, the WHO global special representative on avian flu, said there was so far no biological evidence for the increased chance of human-to-human transmission, despite the rising number of people under observation and in quarantine.

"With increased surveillance, it's not unusual that you would pick up more cases."

Only 10,000 doses of Tamiflu, the anti-viral medication believed to be able to fend off bird flu infection, have been made available to Indonesia from the World Health Organisation stockpile.

Australia has donated another 10,000 doses from its stockpile of 3 million plus.

In Jakarta an eight year old has been confirmed as having bird flu, but tests are being sent to Hong Kong for confirmation, which can mean a delay of two to three days. This means there are two to three days where the virus can spread further between family members who had close contact with the boy and may already be carrying the virus.

WHO toned down its warnings of the previous week that the world was on the brink of disaster, with bird flu likely to soon mutate into a form that can spread easily through the human population. is claiming the number of patients admitted to Sulianti Saroso Hospital has been doubling daily, a clear sign the bird flu infections have increased.

But WHO press releases, issued almost on the hour today, are claiming there is no indication a pandemic has begun, and the increase in admissions to the Jakarta Hospital are due to an increased awareness of the virus and of the symptoms amongst nervous Indonesians.

Midday. September 23, 2005

Jakarta Post reports today at least 15 people showing signs of bird flu infection have been hospitalised at Sulianti Saroso Hospital, where two young girls have died in the past few days.

Hospital officials claim all fifteen now in quarantine had visited the Ragunan Zoo that was closed last weekend, after some 20 birds were found to be infected.

An eight year old boy was admitted with acute respiratory problems and a high temperature. The Sulianti Saroso Hospital has a shortage of respirators that will help the infected to breathe easier. Some reports say the hospital only has four respirators in total, and one has now broken down.

One patient now under surveillance had not visited the zoo. An office worker in Jakarta’s CBD, he claimed the only contact he has had with birds was in feeding the ones that visit his office block balcony.

On SBS World News, the coffins of the two dead children were shown being sealed, to prevent the spread of the bird flu virus.

1 comment:

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