Page last updated at 07:23 GMT, Thursday, 28 May 2009 08:23 UK

Australia swine flu ship isolated

Pacific Dawn cruise ship on earlier visit to Sydney, January 08
The P&O Pacific Dawn is carrying some 2,000 passengers

A cruise ship carrying 2,000 passengers has been ordered to stay at sea off the coast of Australia after three crew tested positive for swine flu.

The P&O Pacific Dawn, currently moored off Queensland, will be allowed to dock at a major port on Saturday, cutting short its voyage, officials said.

The order came as health officials confirmed more than 100 Australians now had the A(H1N1) virus.

The ship is not expected to be quarantined.

The Pacific Dawn has been blamed for the recent spike in flu infections in Australia after authorities allowed 2,000 passengers to disembark in Sydney despite a suspected outbreak onboard.

At least 20 passengers were later diagnosed with the virus. Their presence in the community is thought to have added to the rapid spread of the flu in Australia.

Scientist testing flu samples
Australia's new cases come at the start of winter in the southern hemisphere

Experts have warned that Australia's rapidly rising number of swine flu cases could become an epidemic affecting 25% of the population.

Earlier, Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon said her government would not hesitate to put the Pacific Dawn cruise ship under quarantine if necessary.

She said the rules applying to cruise ships had been tightened, treating all vessels as potential swine flu sites and keeping passengers aboard until they have been cleared.

Meanwhile, a rise in cases has been reported in countries across Asia.

South Korea's health authorities say they have confirmed three more cases of the flu virus, bringing the number of reported infections there to 32.

Singapore has confirmed its first case of swine flu as infections increased in Hong Kong and the Philippines. Japan has seen a rapid rise in confirmed cases to more than 350.

Worldwide, the number of A(H1N1) cases has soared to nearly 13,400 in 48 countries, with 100 deaths, according to the World Health Organization.

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