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China's Health Ministry on high alert for swine flu
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China's Ministry of Health (MOH) is developing a diagnostic reagent for use in testing for swine flu, which has killed more than 100 people in Mexico, an MOH spokesman said Monday.

Research on a possible vaccine and medication to combat the deadly virus was also underway, MOH spokesman Mao Qun'an told Xinhua.

The MOH had ordered medical institutions at all levels to step up monitoring of suspected swine flu cases, and to report them to the ministry promptly, said Mao.

Local authorities were required to immediately organize experts to provide medical consultations and treatment at designated medical institutions if people were suspected to have contracted the virus.

Swine influenza A/H1N1 is a respiratory disease that infects pigs and does not normally infect humans. But sporadic cases do occur, usually for people who have had close contact with pigs.

At least 103 people had died out of about 1,600 suspected cases in Mexico by Monday noon. A total of 49 cases were reported in the United States, Canada, and other countries.

As of Monday morning, no cases had been reported in China.

However, the Hong Kong Center for Health Protection said Monday that a Hong Kong woman who developed symptoms of respiratory infection and fever while traveling in the United States was being tested for swine flu.

Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang had called a special meeting to study countermeasures to the virus.

Mao said the MOH would enhance contact with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the governments of Mexico and the U.S. to learn about the latest developments.

"China is willing to provide technical support for countries plagued by swine flu," he said.

Though it has no vaccine, the MOH insisted that the swine flu was "preventable, controllable, and treatable."

On Saturday, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine issued an emergency notice requiring people to report flu-like symptoms at the point of entry when coming from the swine flu affected places.

People who developed flu-like symptoms after returning from affected regions within two weeks should also report to local entry-exit inspection and quarantine authorities.

These people reporting flu-like symptoms must be examined and those who have been infected or are suspected to be infected by the virus should be isolated and treated, the administration said.

(Xinhua News Agency Apirl 28, 2009)

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