Subscribe

South Korea has stepped up screening of passengers flying in from the United States and elsewhere in an effort to prevent an outbreak of swine flu from spreading to the country.

Japan also has heightened inspections on direct flights from California and Mexico, where the virus may have originated.

Yoon Min-ho, with the quarantine inspection center at South Korea’s Incheon International Airport, said no arrivals with the virus had been detected as of Monday.

"However, we still remain on the alert for swine influenza outbreak and [have tightened] quarantine inspection," Yoon said.

Passengers arriving at Incheon are to go through an infrared camera capable of sensing body temperature. Anyone whose body temperature exceeds 38 degrees Celsius (100.4 degrees Fahrenheit) is asked to step aside for a more detailed check, Yoon said.

People with high fevers or respiratory problems then undergo either a body fluid or saliva test. If test results for any kind of influenza show positive, more tests to determine the specific type of flu are done.

Yoon said it takes about six hours to complete all testing.

"Expecting this swine flu outbreak gets more serious," he said, "we hope the travelers coming from U.S. to be cooperative fully for our asking for quarantine inspection."

In Japan, officials at Narita International Airport near Tokyo and Kansai International Airport near Osaka have been using similar screening and testing procedures since an outbreak of SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) was reported in Asia in 2003.

But screening of passengers on direct flights from Mexico has been tightened, said Kanako Inoue, a spokeswoman for Narita’s quarantine section.

Heath officials board the arriving planes and ask passengers if they’ve experienced sudden fever, severe coughing or runny noses, or if they have come into contact with anyone with those symptoms, Inoue said.

"So far, there is no one suspected of swine flu," she said.

At Kansai, where no direct flights from Mexico arrive, such screening has increased on indirect flights via San Francisco and Los Angeles, quarantine spokesman Masayuki Tokunaga said.

"When anyone is suspected of swine flu, we would ask the person to see a doctor at the airport clinic and take a simplified test," Tokunaga said.

The test would take about 15 minutes, and if flu is suspected the person would be transported to a designated hospital, he said.

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up