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Premier Wen calls for strengthened swine flu prevention
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Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on Tuesday called for enhanced swine flu prevention and control in a State Council, or Cabinet, meeting in the wake of an outbreak of the epidemic in countries including Mexico.

The meeting, presided over by Wen, heard reports from central government departments including the Ministry of Health, on global swine flu situation.

As of Tuesday morning, no cases of the illness had been reported in China, and the similar virus has not been found in pigs in China, said a meeting release.

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.

"The Communist Party of China Central Committee and the government has paid great attention to the epidemic situation in countries such as Mexico, and the government has taken emergent measures to strengthen monitoring and prevention work," the release said.

The meeting did not exclude the possibility that the epidemic could spread to China as "the situation in some countries is developing, more suspected cases have been found and the epidemic-stricken area is expanding."

The meeting called for maintaining high alert and taking effective measures to closely monitor the epidemic situation, safeguard people's health and safety and ensure a smooth social production order.

It also released eight measures for disease prevention:

-- Relevant government departments should follow up the latest development of the disease around the world, and step up cooperation with foreign countries as well as Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao;

-- A joint prevention and control mechanism, including the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Agriculture and the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, should be established to make emergency plans and monitor the entire disease prevention process;

-- Local entry-exit inspection and quarantine authorities should improve their work, enhancing the examination and disinfection on people and vehicles coming back from disease-plagued countries, to prevent the entry of the illness;

-- The government should promptly issue travel notices for citizens going abroad, according to the disease's newest information worldwide;

-- Health authorities should enhance the monitoring on unknown pneumonia and influenza cases, set up an instant-report system and treat people promptly by early detection;

-- Supervision should be tightened on farms, slaughterhouses and agricultural and sideline products markets, and on pork-related products;

-- Anti-disease medicine and clinical treatment apparatus should be well prepared, and researches about the disease-infection model, and the vaccine and clinical treating method should be enhanced;

-- The government should report to the public the latest news promptly, and better publicize disease facts.

The Health Ministry released a notice on Tuesday afternoon, emphasizing the prevention work.

Local health offices should set up clinics for the detection of infectious diseases, and designate hospitals for possible cases, the notice said.

They should enhance the disease supervision at kindergartens, schools, colleges and nursing homes, focusing on the elderly and the children, it added.

Local health administrations should better train their medical staff to learn the necessary knowledge about disease diagnosis and disinfection work.

With two days to go before the Labor Day festival lasting from May 1 to May 3, the ministry also ordered a round-the-clock working plan at local levels.

In addition, local health offices should enhance their contact with the media, to maintain transparency of disease information release.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also reminded Chinese citizens traveling to swine-flu-hit countries to strengthen prevention measures.

The swine flu crisis is getting worse worldwide. More than 150 patients have been confirmed dead in Mexico, with more than 4,000 suspected cases. Several other countries, including Canada, Spain and the Republic of Korea, have reported cases or suspected cases.

(Xinhua News Agency Apirl 29, 2009)

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