Emergency Meeting of ASEAN Proposed to Deal with Swine Flu
    2009-04-29 13:51:47     Xinhua      Web Editor: Xu Leiying
 
By Xia Lin, Long Heng

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen Wednesday proposed to hold an emergency meeting of ASEAN countries to seek measures against the deadly swine influenza outbreak.

"We should have an emergency meeting among the ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries, if possible, to take actions against the deadly swine flu," he told a student graduation ceremony of the National Institute of Education in Phnom Penh.

Thailand has to play the role of chairman for this meeting, he said, adding that currently Thailand is the chair country of ASEAN.

"We have to find measures to prevent and fight against this fast spread of pig flu," he said.

We also need to seek ways to prevent this epidemic from affecting bilateral trade among the regional countries, if it occurs in one of them, he added.

Meanwhile, the premier appealed to the local people not to panic over swine flu, as pork is still edible if properly cooked.

However, people with high body temperature must wear masks and rush to hospital, he said, adding that "Cambodia has weak facilities, but our spirit is strong."

The Ministry of Health (MoH) will require any citizen or foreign visitor, who are suspected of catching this illness, not to fly to other countries, he said.

"We will take him to hospital for treatment," he added.

In addition, the premier confirmed that there is no sign of swine flu occurrence among pigs and human beings in Cambodia, adding that the government has not adopted any ban on pork importation from its neighboring countries.

Also on Wednesday, Sem Sovan, secretary general of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forests and Fisheries, told Xinhua that the ministry has been closely tracking the development of swine flu since it was first found in other countries.

"We selected some samples from the pig farms across our own country to test for swine flu, but up to now, we don't spot any sign of it. There are no suspected cases of swine flu on pigs in Cambodia at all," he added.

In the mean time, Ly Sovan, deputy director of the Anti- communicable Disease Department of MoH, also testified this updated information made public by the premier and the secretary general.

"At the airports, our unit is monitoring the passengers who traveled here from the affected countries," he added.

The government installed a thermal scanner at the Phnom Penh International Airport on Tuesday and another one at the Siem Reap International Airport on Wednesday.

These two terminals are the only international airports in the kingdom. A third airport is situated in Sihanouk province, but only serves domestic flights.

In 2007, over two million foreign visitors arrived in Cambodia.

On Monday, The World Health Organization (WHO) and MoH issued a joint statement late Monday, saying that "medical clinics are asked to immediately report any unusual influenza like illness cases to MoH. WHO Western Pacific Regional Office is closely monitoring the situation in the region and has activated its outbreak and emergency management protocols," it said.

In addition, "Cambodia has increased its surveillance for unusual respiratory illness in hospitals, health centers and airport," it said.

"While there is no vaccine against this type of influenza, there are a range of possible treatments although it is not yet clear which will be most appropriate," it said.

"Cambodia has prepared stockpiles of various resources, including medication to treat viral illness, and has access to additional regional supplies if required," it added.

Meanwhile, according to Sok Touch, director of the Anti- communicable Disease Department of MoH, the ministry will use the existing equipment and system nationwide for combating bird flu to monitor swine flu.

The ministry will cooperate with WHO to take actions on the pig- farming industry if necessary, but the very next step will focus on travelers from the infected areas, he added.

So far, swine influenza has killed 159 people in Mexico, led to 68 human contamination cases in U.S., and affected altogether 23 countries in the world.
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