H1N1 flu tally soars

2009-06-02 09:53

Melbourne - Australia's H1N1 flu tally soared again to nearly 500 confirmed cases on Tuesday, just a day after a sudden spike made it the Asia-Pacific region's worst affected country.

Victoria health minister Daniel Andrews said 89 new cases had been identified in the state overnight, taking its total to 395. The national count now stands at 496, the fourth largest worldwide.

Australia had only one case of H1N1 flu just a fortnight ago but the numbers have grown exponentially since the controversial move to let infected passengers leave a luxury cruise-liner last week.

On Tuesday, Carnival Australia warned that another of its vessels had been turned away from the French Pacific territory of New Caledonia because of possible flu cases among its passengers.

"We reported that some people on board had flu-like symptoms," Carnival Australia spokesperson Anthony Fisk said.

"We anchored and they asked us not to disembark any passengers."

Samples from four or five of some 2 000 "Dawn Princess" passengers will be tested for H1N1 flu before the vessel returns to Sydney on Friday.

Australia, which is heading into the southern hemisphere winter, now lags only the United States, Mexico and Canada for H1N1 flu cases.