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Thailand halts pork imports, scans passengers for flu

world Updated: Apr 27, 2009 14:51 IST

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Thailand set up thermal scanners at Bangkok's main airport and halted pork product imports from Mexico and the United States as authorities Monday acted against the spread of swine flu.

Passengers arriving at Suvarnabhumi international airport on certain flights would be checked for signs of the disease and scanners would soon be deployed at other major airports, Health Minister Witthaya Kaewparadai said.

"The ministry has set up scanners, which were first prepared during the bird flu outbreak, at Suvarnabhumi airport," Witthaya told reporters.

Thailand recorded 25 human cases of bird flu, 17 of them fatal, between 2004 and the last outbreak in August 2006.

"Scanners will be set up at international airports like Phuket and Chiang Mai too. We will determine later which passengers
to scan, whether it should be from flights from the US, Canada and Mexico," he said.

He said the virus had not yet been found in Thailand and added that the government had preventative measures in place with advice from the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Suvarnabhumi, which opened in 2006, is a major hub for international air travellers. In 2007, the three-billion-dollar airport handled 41 million passengers.

Separately, the Agriculture Ministry confirmed it was halting the import of pork products from affected countries, despite international health officials saying the outbreak was spread by human-to-human contact.

"We have suspended the import of pork meat and products related to pig meat from the USA and Mexico until further notice," said Nirundon Aungtragoolsuk, director for the bureau of disease control and veterinary services.

Mexican officials say the the number of both suspected and confirmed fatalities from swine flu has reached 103, while the United States declared a public emergency as 20 cases were confirmed in five states.