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February 18, 2016

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Airport on alert for infected travelers

INFRARED devices are being employed at Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport in south China’s Guangdong Province in a bid to halt the spread of the Zika virus.

China confirmed its second case on Monday, six days after the first. Both patients had entered the mainland through Guangzhou.

“Once an abnormal body temperature is detected, a monitor goes red and an alarm sounds,” said Meng Chuanjin, deputy head of the province’s entry-exit inspection and quarantine bureau. “We can ensure each and every traveler’s body temperature gets checked.”

The current outbreak of Zika fever originated in Brazil last year and has now spread to other countries in South and Central America.

The patients identified in Guangdong had both been in Venezuela.

The province is under great pressure to keep viruses out of the country with almost 12 million people entering the mainland through Baiyun airport alone last year.

More than 30 customs officers have been trained to identify possible infectees even if their temperature is normal, Meng said. As the weather gets warmer and trade with South America picks up, it will be even more difficult to keep Zika in check, he added.

“We are planning to offer free medical checks for those who have traveled to epidemic areas or who have been in contact with patients.”

The second patient was stopped in Baiyun last Friday and confirmed with Zika on Monday. The first patient was discharged from hospital on Sunday after a full recovery.

Symptoms of Zika, which spreads through mosquito bites, include fever, joint pain, a rash, conjunctivitis, headache and muscle pain.


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