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Better bird flu detection planned

Published on 7 December, 2006, Last updated at 14:13 GMT

By Feng Tao

New equipment to help detect potential bird flu cases is to be installed at all of the city's border points.

All checkpoints will have infrared thermograph systems from January, the Shenzhen Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau announced during the visit of two World Health Organization (WHO) experts Tuesday.

The infrared thermograph system, developed by the inspection and quarantine bureau, has been trailed at Luohu Checkpoint since last December.

Winter is the high season for bird flu and wintering migratory birds arriving in Shenzhen also put the local center for disease control and prevention (CDC) on high alert for the deadly virus.

According to the quarantine bureau, the new thermographs will be first installed at Huanggang Checkpoint, the soon-to-open Futian and Shenzhen Bay checkpoints and Shenzhen airport.

The whole system includes 12 infrared thermograph devices and 40 surveillance cameras, linked to a network terminal.

Rather than taking passengers' temperatures one by one, the infrared thermograph devices enable quarantine workers to check a mass of body temperatures at a time. Any visitor at a surveillance site with a temperature higher than a preset one will be automatically located and tailed by the system.

"It helps the customs clearance as tourists no longer have to have their temperature tested by a thermograph at individual checkpoint counters," said Ye Qing, a spokeswoman for the quarantine bureau. "People don't even notice the infrared thermographs are there."

The new system will also reduce the number of quarantine workers from 51 to nine.

Using the Internet, monitoring staff can communicate with customs and health watchdogs immediately a suspected case is found. The municipal and Central authorities are allowed to inspect and take command during an emergency.

"More than 2,244 suspected bird flu cases were detected during the past 11 months, and seven confirmed as pneumonia while eight were meningitis," Ye said.

Dr. Pierre Carnevale and Dr. Daniel Lins-Menucci from the WHO inspected the system at Luohu Checkpoint with the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine and the local quarantine bureau officials.

Luohu Checkpoint is the biggest land checkpoint on the Chinese mainland, with an average of 250,000 people crossing the border daily.


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