Australians living or traveling in Cambodia and other avian influenza-affected countries have been advised to evacuate quickly if sustained human-to-human transmission of the disease occurs.
“Australians who don’t leave affected countries when first advised to do so may be prevented from leaving later,” stated a Thursday travel bulletin from Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs Web site.
“Borders may be closed, commercial air services may be curtailed or halted and quarantine requirements may further restrict options for leaving,” it added.
The advisory also warns that overseas Australians should be prepared to take “personal responsibility for their own safety and well-being” if bird flu becomes contagious among people.
Further, the advisory states that Australian travelers, long-term residents and businesses are responsible for securing their own supply of antiviral medicine—which will only be provided to officials providing consular and emergency services—if a deadly pandemic is set in motion.
“The limited influenza antiviral medicine supplies held at [overseas] missions and offices is not intended and does not allow for provision to other Australians who may be in the affected area,” the bulletin states.
The grim warning comes at a time when the H5N1 flu strain—which has killed or led to the culling of tens of millions of birds in Southeast Asia and resulted in more than 60 human deaths, four of them Cambodians—has spread to Europe by migrating birds.