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Health Authorities Move to Contain Swine Flu Threat

Posted April. 27, 2009 04:04,   


Domestic health authorities yesterday began drawing up measures and heightening quarantine inspections on U.S. and Mexican pork in the wake of the swine flu scare originating in Mexico.

Participants at a meeting at the central government complex in Seoul agreed on stronger quarantine measures on imported pork and monitoring and disinfection of domestic pig farms.

The National Veterinary Research and Quarantine Service said, “Though influenza viruses are not transmitted through food, consumers are deeply worried about the safety of pork. We will conduct tests for the virus on all U.S. and Mexican pork imports, including those not yet inspected.”

Of pork imported this year, 208 tons from Mexico and 28,726 tons from the United States passed quarantine inspection as of the end of last month.

All travelers arriving from the United States and Mexico will be checked for fever and be tested for the swine flu virus. Those who enter Korea from a third nation after traveling to North America will undergo health inspection.

Mexico is put on high alert in the wake of a new strain of swine flu that has killed 81 people and infected 1,324. The World Health Organization held an emergency meeting Saturday to declare a public health emergency of international concern.

Other countries are scrambling to protect their people from the deadly disease by conducting quarantine inspections at all points of entry.

The outbreak was first reported April 13 and has spread. Mexico City’s 30,000 schools and those in two other Mexican states and San Luis Potosi will remain closed until May 5. Public events expected to draw large crowds of people were also canceled.

In the United Sates, 11 confirmed cases of swine flu were reported in California, Texas and Kansas. In New Zealand, 25 people were suspected of having contracted the virus, CNN said. New Zealand health authorities said a group of students and teachers who returned from Mexico showed swine flu-like symptoms.

World Health Organization Director-General Margaret Chan warned that swine flu could evolve into a global pandemic. She convened Saturday the first meeting of her organization’s emergency committee comprised of influenza experts from around the world in Geneva.

Formed in 2007, the committee said a lot of information on swine flu is needed and urged all countries to step up preventive and surveillance measures.