Pacific Rim prepares for new avian flu

June 30, 2008 at 1:02 PM
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TOKYO, June 30 (UPI) -- The governments of Japan, China and South Korea are making joint preparations in the event of an outbreak of a new strain of avian flu.

The three nations plan to conduct drills to determine whether information sharing and quarantine measures planned will be sufficient to deal with such an occurrence, The Yomiuri Shimbun reported Monday.

The H5N1 avian influenza virus is said to have mutated into a new strain that can be passed on to humans.

Many experts believe such an outbreak would occur in Asia where many people already are reported to have been infected with the virus.

The Japanese government says it will urge all nationals living or traveling abroad to return home immediately from any country where an outbreak is reported.

In one of the drills planned, the government will test whether quarantine officials at four airports designed to accept charter flights carrying Japanese nationals are able to identify infected passengers.

Drills are expected to begin in October after the Beijing Olympics.

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