04/29/2009, 00.00
ASIA
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Every means being tried to stop swine flu

From blocking of flights to and from Mexico to temperature scanners in the airports, and limitations on visas for Mexicans. The experience of SARS and bird flu is showing itself useful for China and the countries of southeast Asia. Stocks in companies in the tourism and travel industry falling, pharmaceutical stocks gaining.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews/Agencies) - "If there's anything good that came out from SARS and avian influenza, it's that we now have better preparedness in China as well as in the rest of the world" in confronting swine flu. "What is important is a transparency and an openness not only with the WHO but also with the public." These are the comments of Hans Troedsson, a representative of the World Health Organization in China - but his considerations apply for much of southeast Asia - who represents the stance of the much of the continent in facing the threat represented by this worldwide infection.

The death toll remains at 159, all of them in Mexico, although the WHO "recognizes" only seven of these. There are 2,498 infections "suspected", and 18 "confirmed" in Mexico, 70 in Australia, 65 in the US, 42 in Colombia, 24 in Chile, 14 in New Zealand, 13 in Canada, one in South Korea, four in Hong Kong, two in Scotland, two in Spain, two in Israel, one in Costa Rica, and one in Germany.

Prevention measures are being planned or implemented everywhere. In Hong Kong, and in many Asian airports, temperature scanners are being used, making it possible to identify which passengers have a fever. Japan has announced a further step, imposing restrictions on visas for Mexicans, in addition to inviting its own citizens to avoid going to that country, and urging them, wherever they are, to return home. Jiji Press also reports that the government has reserved 500 rooms near Tokyo's Narita International Airport, to quarantine travelers who may be infected.

Bans or severe limitations on flights to and from Mexico have also been imposed by Argentina and Cuba. For now, the United States and Europe are limiting themselves to discouraging them.

In India and Thailand, they are trying to locate people who have recently returned from Mexico and the United States, to conduct medical tests on them.

Saudi Arabia announces that it is considering the installation of temperature scanners to monitor all of those who arrive by sky, sea, or land from places where the presence of the virus is suspected. Committees to decide preventive measures have been announced by the United Arab Emirates and by Yemen.

In Israel, next to the two verified cases there are two more that are suspected, and another person being monitored. The government held an emergency meeting overnight. A meeting is scheduled for tomorrow among Israeli, Egyptian, and Palestinian health authorities, to agree on the measures to be taken.

Almost all of the world markets are showing a drop in stocks related to tourism and travel, and a rise in pharmaceutical stocks.

IN THE PHOTO: A sign in a Taiwan airport

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