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Australia well prepared to face swine flu outbreak, says Director of the Nossal Institute for Global Health at the University of Melbourne, Professor Graham Brown

Professor Brown says he is not surprised that the World Health Organisation has called the recent outbreak of swine flu a public health emergency of international concern.

This has been noted as an epidemic of potential concern as the World Health organisation want to act early; because the flu has traveled outside Mexico, there is a risk of it becoming a pandemic, he says.

Professor Brown says there is no current vaccine for swine flu but that it would be possible - now that the genetic sequence is known - for scientists to begin preparing the seed lots and make a vaccine for the future. Yet Professor Brown says this could take a few months.

We do not have immunity to swine flu and we do not expect current influenza vaccines to protect humans against this new strain, but anti-viral drugs should be effective, he says.

Professor Brown says this outbreak will provide Australia with a good opportunity to prepare itself for a pandemic. He says that at times like this, it is more important than ever to remember the simple measures - like washing your hands - needed to prevent the spread of any form of influenza spread.

Associate Professor Mark Crosby from the Melbourne Business School says the Chinese Governments decision to increase investment overseas is a sign that China wants to be more closely integrated in the world economy.

What were seeing now compared to recent years is a willingness and an ability for the Chinese Government and Chinese companies to become more involved in investment opportunities overseas. China is still a very small player in global investment flows, but what we will see is an increase in the weight and size of the investments to and from China, more relevant to the size of its economy.

Because it allowed money to come in for foreign direct investments for many years but didnt allow money to go out, as well as having big trade surpluses, has meant that China has built up roughly two trillion dollars in foreign exchange reserves. Two hundred billion dollars of that is channeled into China Investment Corporation, effectively their sovereign wealth fund, earmarked for overseas investments.

As far as the Chinese Government is concerned, the feeling is that they need resources to fund a multi-decade infrastructure program to develop their economy. They dont have enough resources themselves so they need to have secure demand, hence their interest in banking and resources.

Mark Crosby is an economist at the Melbourne Business School. His extensive consulting experience includes work with the Monetary Authority of Singapore, the World Bank and BHP-Billiton. He has also worked in the Australian Treasury, and has acted as a Research Fellow at the Hong Kong Institute for Monetary Research.

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