Countries ban pork imports in move to curb swine flu

April 27, 2009

The world’s governments raced to avoid both a pandemic and global hysteria over the weekend as more possible swine flu cases surfaced from Canada to New Zealand and the United States declared a public health emergency.

China has banned pork imports from Mexico and parts of the United States with immediate effect to prevent the entry of the H1N1 swine flu virus from affected regions, according to a notice posted on a government website early Monday morning.

The Phillipines has also imposed a temporary ban on the entry of pork from Mexico and the United States.

Serbia on Saturday banned all imports of pork from North America, despite reassurances from the FAO that pigs appear not to be the immediate source of infection.

Other countries are increasing their screening of pigs and pork imports from the Americas or banning them outright despite health officials’ reassurances that it was safe to eat thoroughly cooked pork. Russia banned the import of meat products from Mexico, California, Texans and Kansas. South Korea said it would increase the number of its influenza virus checks on pork products from Mexico and the U.S.

A pandemic virus is defined, among other things, as a novel strain that’s not easily treated.

Pandemic alert levels
The WHO’s pandemic alert level is currently at to phase 3. The organization said the level could be raised to phase 4 if the virus shows sustained ability to pass from human to human.

Phase 5 would be reached if the virus is found in at least two countries in the same region.

“The declaration of phase 5 is a strong signal that a pandemic is imminent and that the time to finalize the organization, communication, and implementation of the planned mitigation measures is short,” WHO said.

Phase 6 would indicate a full-scale global pandemic.—DOH


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