As reported by Department of Health and Aging on 4th June 2009, the total number of confirmed H1N1 09 (Human Swine Flu) cases in Australia has now increased to 633. The state of Victoria has over three-quarters of these confirmed cases and have subsequently raised its pandemic alert level from "contain" to a "modified sustain" phase. Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon is reported in the media to have stated that "Victoria is moving to a new level of risk". Technically, this upgraded alert would enable government bans on public gatherings; such as sports events, entertainment venues, and community programs. However, the good news for the Venues and Events Industry is that the minister is also reported to have stated that the "modified sustain phase will not yet impact on public events and gatherings" She defended the decision not to cancel events, including the recent State of Origin game, confirming that she been advised that mass outdoor public events did not pose any particular risk.
Instead of the ban of events and public gatherings, Victorian authorities identified methods to manage risks appropriately. They have demonstrated this by targeting those people at highest risk such as children and elderly. Media have reported that hundreds of children and teachers who attended the recent State of Origin game in Victoria have been requested to stay home in quarantine for a week. Similar restrictions have already been in place for students and teachers returning from South America, North America and Japan.
To the delight of fans, the State of Origin game continued with appropriate controls which identified high risk patrons. This serves as a timely reminder that the events and venues industry is looking into the face of a crisis situation of a pending pandemic, however until then there are operational controls including provision of information, isolation of high risk groups and appropriately resourced medical response teams.
More information can be found at the following linked sites:
Office of Industrial Relations link: http://www.industrialrelations.nsw.gov.au/Employers/Employer_responsibilities/Swine_flu_be_ready_to_deal_with_workplace_impacts.html
Department of Health link: http://www.health.wa.gov.au/swine_flu/home/