Australia to buy 40,000 courses of bird flu medication for Indonesia

Australia will buy 40,000 doses of a bird flu anti-viral medication to help its northern neighbor Indonesia cope with the illness, government officials said Monday.

Bird flu has killed four people in Indonesia since July, and two other recent fatalities are being investigated.

"This funding will help Indonesia develop a stockpile of Tamiflu which will be used to treat suspected victims and people who have been in immediate close contact with them," Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said in a statement.

Monday's announcement brings the number of Tamiflu courses Australia has pledged to buy for Indonesia to 50,000. The government last week said it would buy 10,000 doses of the anti-viral medicine through the World Health Organization.

The 50,000 doses will cost 1.25 million Australian dollars (US$947,000; Ђ781,482.09).

On Sunday, Customs Minister Chris Ellison said authorities had seized tons of poultry meat in an effort to keep bird flu from entering the country. He did not say when the poultry was seized or where it came from.

"(It's from) countries where we suspect that there is a risk and in cases where there is doubt a seizure is made," Ellison told the Ten television network. "It is of concern and we're watching out."

Prime Minister John Howard said last week that Australia and the United States planned to raise their concerns about bird flu at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders summit in November in South Korea, reports the AP.

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