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Vietnam considers ban on pork import, raises swine flu alert
Vietnam, which may stop importing pork from other countries for fear of swine flu, has raised its swine flu alert level and announced urgent precautionary measures.

“The Ministry of Industry and Trade will consider a ban on pork import under certain situations and if the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development suggests it,” newswire VietNamNet quoted an unnamed official from the former ministry as saying  Thursday.

The increase in the level of alert to phase 5 came after the World Health Organization upgraded its warning to the same level earlier  Thursday and warned that “influenza pandemics must be taken seriously precisely because of their capacity to spread rapidly to every country in the world.”

However, the ministry official assuaged fears by saying Vietnam has only imported small quantities of pork from a few countries reporting the disease.

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat has ordered an increase in surveillance of pork imported by road.

He also told concerned agencies to consider stopping import of pork from the US. At least 18 countries have partial or total bans on pork imports.

The Ministry of Health  on Thursday sent 1,500 masks and 5,000 Tamiflu tablets to the Ho Chi Minh City Health Department.

The masks are meant for workers at the HCMC International Health Quarantine Center and the pills were distributed to hospitals in the city.

Nguyen Huy Nga, head of the Health Ministry’s Department for Preventive Health, said Vietnam has not banned travelers from swine flu-infected zones but encouraged them to carefully monitor their health and report to health authorities if they find any symptoms of the disease.

People coming from these zones are required to report to health authorities to protect themselves and the community, he said.

Preventive measures remained in place at HCMC’s Tan Son Nhat International Airport on Thursday.

The city Health Department and International Health Quarantine Center on Thursday distributed masks to all airport personnel.

A new health declaration form is being supplied to passengers arriving at the airport seeking information regarding swine flu.

Out of 6,000 passengers arriving at Tan Son Nhat on Thursday, 350 were from swine flu-infected zones.

But none had a high temperature or had to be quarantined, authorities said.

The city Center of Preventive Health on Thursday asked the Department of Health to order passengers arriving from North America to wear masks at the airport.

Current checks only monitor body temperature but do not check passengers for the presence of the virus [at an early stage before the onset of fever], the center warned.

Source: TN, Agencies

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