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City develops swine flu prevention plan

SHANGHAI will adopt emergency measures similar to those in the 2003 SARS outbreak to prevent and help control a possible outbreak of swine flu.

The flu has caused 159 deaths in Mexico, has been detected in 23 countries and is spreading rapidly around the globe.

Shanghai developed an emergency plan early this morning, stressing early detection, reporting, isolation and treatment.

The plan has seven sections covering monitoring, prevention, epidemic research, assessment of people in close contact with patients, disinfecting, preventative measures for people in contact with patients as well as laboratory testing.

In the plan, 136 hospitals and medical faculties citywide will check all patients with temperatures visiting out-patient departments.

The doctors who check patients first will have the major responsibility. They must ask about the patients' contacts over the past weeks.

Patients with temperatures over 38.5 degrees Celsius will be treated at special departments. Anyone with flu-like symptoms must be isolated immediately. Experts from higher-level disease prevention and control centers will be asked to examine doubtful cases.

Anyone suspected or confirmed to be suffering from swine flu will be taken by ambulance to the Shanghai Public Health Clinical Center or the Children's Hospital of Fudan University - the only two designated hospitals - for isolation and treatment.

As no swine flu has been detected in the nation yet, the city is still at the "preparation stage."

Efforts to ensure preventative measures are put into operation will involve organization, technology, research and financing.

Today the Ministry of Health said China denies overseas media reports about the country's swine flu situation, which were made "regardless of truth and scientific common sense," Xinhua news agency reported.

MOH spokesman Mao Qun'an said that some overseas media reports claimed that the source of the current swine flu epidemic was China. He did not specify any particular stories or media organizations.

"No human cases have been found in China, nor has the virus been found in the country's pigs," he said.

Mao said the government had been vigilant after the disease broke out in the United States and Mexico. Several government departments had taken coordinated preventative measures.

Meanwhile, the Shanghai-based China Eastern Airlines and Guangzhou-based China Southern Airlines have stopped providing pork in their on-board meals.

Shanghai Airlines said it will continue to offer pork because the meat is safe after it is cooked.

China Southern said its staff are disinfecting every jet before take-off and after landing.

An epidemic expert who shot to fame by first reporting the SARS outbreak in 2003 yesterday gave an explanation for why swine flu is more likely to attack strong young people.

Young people have a more sensitive immune system which quickly releases a large volume of immune cells when the body is attacked by the flu virus, said Zhong Nanshan, a member of Chinese Academy of Engineering.

The release of the immune cells in return poses a danger because it unbalances the body, Zhong said.


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