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Inner Western Courier Thursday Not Used Anymore : May 6th 2009
MB INNER-WEST WEEKLY, Thursday, May 7, 2009 7 NEWS www.innerwestweekly.com.au Thinly-masked panic Joseph Severino, of Priceline Pharmacy in Five Dock, says masks and flu medication are big sellers. Picture: PHIL BLATCH ~PP273541 ALARMED Inner West residents are swarming to their local pharmacies to stock up on medical masks and flu tablets, in a panicky response to the widely-publicised swine flu outbreak. Joseph Severino, pharmacist at Priceline Pharmacy in Five Dock, said there had been a high demand for anti-flu products, and swine influenza inquiries every hour. ''In the last week we have sold all the masks on the shelf and even our supplier is out of stock. They have gone just like that!'' he said. ''People are purchasing them for safety when travelling abroad, going to the airport for any reason, and even while riding on the bus.'' Sales in prescription medicine for flu symptoms have also rocketed. ''We sell at least 10 boxes of Tamiflu tablets a day now and have even had customers request- ing gloves for protection from cross-contamination,'' Mr Severino said. But while pharmacies are dish- ing out myriad masks and flu tablets, the local pork and travel industries have remained stable and are yet to experience any decline in business. Wareemba Meats butcher Paul Laylor says, despite the rumours that the swine influenza can be contracted from eating pork, their sales of pork products have re- mained consistent. ''Some people have asked: 'Is it all right to eat pork?'. But that hasn't stopped them from buying their pork chops and steaks. ''After all, it's only Mexican pig you shouldn't be going near, not Australian pig,'' he said. Likewise, Doug Potter, owner of Travelscene in Burwood, said people were in no rush to cancel their travel plans, but were nat- urally a bit alarmed. ''One of our clients who is due to travel over to Mexico is just monitoring the situation before making a final decision. However there have been no cancellations at this stage.'' Mr Potter is, however, a bit concerned that if the swine influ- enza starts to pose an even greater threat, it will be detrimental to his business. ''The last thing the travel indus- try needs is for the swine flu to become a serious threat, es- pecially with the current downturn of the economy and decreased number of travellers,'' he said. ''It would be catastrophic.'' By work experience student SHANNON ANDREUCCI Best options to stay safe WHILE there have been no con- firmed cases of influenza A in Australia as yet, Professor Dominic Dwyer said people needed to take precautions and be prepared for its arrival. Prof Dwyer heads the team at Westmead Hospital, which is one of four World Health Organis- ation flu labs in Australia. He said the main precaution was to try to avoid unnecessary travel to Mexico and the United States. But other precautions against spreading or catching viruses are similar to ones recommended for other flu and respiratory illnesses. They include: Cover your mouth and nose when sneezing and coughing; Wash hands throughout the day; Stay home from work if ill; and Go your doctor if you have flu- like symptoms. As for wearing face masks, the effectiveness in preventing the spread of viruses is not as clear- cut, Prof Dwyer said. ''Masks are effective if an ill person wears them to prevent infecting others, but it is not so clear if they prevent the wearer from picking up infections. ''The thing to remember with all viruses is that they are spread through droplets spraying from the infected person -- but only within about a metre,'' he said. ''That is why staying home when ill is important, as people work closely together.'' 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