Hotels Must Provide Masks, Health Office Says

DENPASAR ~ Bali’s Health Office has ordered hotels to provide masks for guests as part of measures to prevent the spread of swine flu.

Under new disease control rules they must also make arrangements with the hotel doctor or a local clinic to supply the anti-flu drug Tamiflu for any guest complaining of feeling ill and showing flu symptoms.

Head of Public Health Nyoman Sutedja said this week that while swine flu was a mild infection, it was important to control its spread.

He said health authorities in Bali had only 14,000 Tamiflu doses in stock.

Masks are also being provided at Ngurah Rai International Airport.

Meanwhile, Sanglah Hospital confirmed this week it had admitted four suspected swine flu patients, three of whom had tested positive.

All are foreign visitors to Bali, according to the hospital. And all were referred to Sanglah by clinics in the Nusa Dua and Kuta areas.

Tests for the H1N1 virus were still under way on the fourth suspected case, Sanglah’s chief medical officer, Dr Lanang Suartana, said.

Health authorities believe all four cases, one from Argentina and the rest Australians or living there, travelled to Bali on separate aircraft.

Two of the patients, now recovered from mild cases of the disease, have been allowed to return to their holiday accommodation under continuing quarantine conditions.

The fourth suspected case is a traveller who arrived in Bali on Sunday.

The World Health Organisation said on Wednesday that to date 332 people worldwide had died of swine flu and 77,201 had caught the disease.

American statistics show that in the US, an average of 36,000 people a year die from the complications of flu. People with underlying but unrelated health problems are most at risk.

[BT Diary, pg 4; Editorial, pg 8]

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