JAKARTA - Regional cooperation to deal with SARS and avian influenza have left Southeast Asia in a stronger position to tackle an outbreak of swine flu, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations said Monday.
"ASEAN member States are now intensifying surveillance, coordinating and collaborating in the sharing of pertinent information, raising public awareness and taking necessary precautionary public health measures," ASEAN said in a statement.
"ASEAN member states are better prepared now following the experience from recent SARS and avian influenza outbreaks. ASEAN has the existing mechanisms and networks for strengthening preparedness and response to a possible pandemic."
Existing stockpiles of around one million doses of antivirals drugs could be used to deal with swine flu, it said.
"ASEAN has 500,000 courses of antivirals stockpiled in Singapore and an additional 500,000 courses have been distributed to ASEAN member states."
Probable swine flu deaths in Mexico, the source of the outbreak, have reached 103, with about 400 people in hospital and 1,614 under observation.
The only other confirmed cases in the world have been in the United States, where 20 people have the disease, Canada, where there are six, and Spain, where one man is infected.
Indonesia, where ASEAN's secretariat is based, is the country worst-hit by avian influenza, with 115 human deaths officially recorded by the country's health ministry since 2003.