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Agriculture Ministry: No Plans to Restrict Pork Imports

Posted April. 30, 2009 08:24,   


The government has no plans to restrict pork imports despite the growing global outbreak of swine flu.

Korea was put on high alert yesterday as an additional five people were suspected of having swine flu. The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the two men and three women who had traveled to Los Angeles, New York and California are being tested for swine flu.

Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Chang Tae-pyong said, “We feel no need to restrict pork imports at this point.”

“No scientific or empirical evidence has found that swine influenza is transmitted through pork,” he said, adding import restrictions will instead trigger fears over pork safety and put livestock farmers in trouble.

Chang also suggested calling the disease Mexican influenza, saying, “Considering livestock farmers, we will consult with relevant ministries to change the name to Mexican influenza.”

Yesterday`s discovery of the five cases brought the number of potential swine flu cases to 12, with one identified as a probable case, five as suspected cases, and six testing negative for the virus.

Health authorities are stepping up tracing and quarantine measures to prevent more second infections and bar infected patients from entering the country. The government is tracing 338 people who either took the same flight as or lived together with a 50-year-old woman classified as a probable case.

Of them, 125 took the first viral test, 72 are undergoing it, and the remaining 141 left for other countries upon arrival.

Health authorities are also testing two people suspected of having contracted the virus by traveling with the 50-year-old woman in Mexico. One of them who returned to Korea with the women Sunday was quarantined at home due to close contact with the woman, though showing no flu-like symptoms.

The other, an ethnic Korean resident of Mexico, will be tested for the infection upon entering the country at the airport regardless of symptoms.

Jeon Byeong-ryul, head of the epidemics center at the disease prevention center, said, “Upon arrival, she will be given anti-viral drugs and be closely monitored.”