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Friday, May 1, 2009

> China develops sensitive test kit for swine flu

The world's most populous nation said Thursday it has not detected cases of swine flu and announced that its scientists have developed a sensitive and quick diagnostic test as the global alert was raised to imminent pandemic level. 
China is drawing on its experience in battling previous Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and avian flu in confronting the latest scare that has caused over 150 deaths in Mexico, one fatality in the United States and a rising number of infections in more and more countries. 
Health Minister Chen Zhu expressed confidence that China, with its 1.3 billion population, would be able to battle the mutant strain. 
"We should prepare for the worst but make efforts to improve the situation. One thing is certain for China and the entire mankind, we are far more capable of dealing with this kind of public emergency than the SARS epidemic," he told a media briefing which was delayed due to a meeting chaired by President Hu Jintao which discussed the matter. 
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has increased the global warning from Phase 4 to the second highest Phase 5, a signal to all countries to immediately activate pandemic contingeny plans. 
Chen said that with the help of WHO and U.S. disease experts, local scientists on Thursday morning successfully produced a sensitive diagnostic test which would be issued to all centres for disease control nationwide. 
China has also requested for samples of the virus from the World Health Organisation and relevant governments for the development of a vaccine, he added.
Thermal camera checks had been stepped up at all entry and exit points in the country and the government was increasing its stockpile of anti-viral medicines. 
Chen said China had stopped imports of pork and pork products from Mexico and several states in the U.S and a special channel for arrivals from Mexico had been set up. 
Shanghai is the only city in China's mainland that has a direct air route to and from Mexico. 
Chen said hygiene tips would be distributed to the public including discouraging open spitting, washing hands frequently and stay home if they have fever - Bernama.