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City launches virus protection system

SHANGHAI has adopted emergency measures similar to those used in the 2003 SARS outbreak to guard against the possible arrival of swine flu and to protect residents if the virus does hit the city.

Local officials issued an emergency plan early this morning that stressed early detection, reporting, isolation and treatment.

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

The plan covers monitoring, prevention, epidemic research, assessment of people in close contact with victims, disinfection and laboratory testing.

Under the plan, 136 hospitals and medical facilities city-wide will check all patients with fevers visiting out-patient departments and ask about their recent contacts.

Patients with temperatures exceeding 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 suspicious cases.

Anyone suspected of 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 for isolation and treatment.

"We have set up three groups to monitor and streamline the prevention and control of swine flu, and all hospital leaders and experts are on standby day and night," Wang Yi, vice president of Fudan's Children's Hospital, said yesterday. "Swine flu training for doctors and nurses has been carried out. Medicine, masks and medical equipment are ready."

Meanwhile, other authorities are trying to keep the flu from getting into the city in the first place. Special surveillance measures have been implemented at the Pudong International Airport to check passengers coming in from areas reporting cases of swine flu, especially Mexico, the country hardest hit by the disease.

One of the two weekly flights from Mexico is expected to land in the Pudong airport at 6am today. The Shanghai Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau will check passengers' temperatures on board with a portable infrared scanner.

Any passenger whose temperature is higher than 37.5 degrees Celsius will be sent to a hospital from the parking apron, while all others will proceed through customs.

Travelers from the United States will walk through a special passage where thermal scanners will check their temperatures. The list of suspect passengers may be expanded soon to other countries where swine flu has been reported.

The swine flu scare has caused some tourists to cancel trips to the US and Europe, local travel agencies said yesterday. Shanghai CYTS Tours said several clients asked to break their trip contracts and would not have to pay a penalty.

Shanghai International Travel Service Co Ltd said it will consider postponing or canceling US tour groups if the flu situation worsens.

In a related announcement, the entry-exit authority confirmed that the deaths of two passengers on a luxury cruise liner visiting Shanghai were not connected with swine flu.

A 59-year-old woman from Great Britain suffered a heart attack on Monday night and died despite emergency treatment. A 77-year-old woman from Canada died last Saturday from unknown causes.


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