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Fever tests expand for city arrivals

QUARANTINE officials have begun to board flights arriving in Shanghai from Japan to check the temperatures of passengers before they're allowed to deplane, the Shanghai Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau said yesterday in announcing the city's latest swine flu precautions.

Officials said anyone on a flight found to have a temperature exceeding 38 degrees Celsius will be sent immediately to a hospital designated to handle possible cases of the H1N1 virus.

A second check will occur inside the airport, where all passengers arriving from countries reporting swine flu cases must walk through a special passage monitored by body scanners.

The on-board checks for incoming Japanese flights started this week. Similar checks were put in place earlier for arrivals from the United States and Mexico, which are among the countries hit hardest by the swine flu outbreak.

At Shanghai's Hongqiao Airport, travelers on inbound flights from Japan - which experienced a spike in swine flu that led to school closings and other preventive measures in the past few days - said they had their temperatures checked twice before disembarking.

"The first check was conducted about halfway into the flight, while the second was right before we left the airplane," said a Chinese woman surnamed He who was returning from a Tokyo trip.

"Everyone was tense during the check," she said. "People all asked about each other's temperature in fear of being quarantined for sitting near someone with a fever."

More than half the passengers on Japan Airlines flight 5295, which departed from Tokyo's Haneda Airport, wore masks, saying they voluntarily took the precaution as a result of the worsening flu situation.

Immigration police have installed screens to prevent cross-infection between passengers and officers. Those areas are also disinfected several times a day.

Because of the flu, many local tourists have asked for a refund or a delay in their trips to Japan, city tour agencies said.

"Most tourists asked to postpone the trip," said Yu Weihua, general manager of the Shanghai China International Travel Service Co Ltd, adding that those who want a refund will lose their flight deposit.

City government spokesman Chen Qiwei said yesterday that the local travel market is generally stable. The country's tourism authorities have not called for a halt on Japan or US-bound tours.


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