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Russia ready to step up measures against swine flu - public health chief

Moscow, 30 April: Russian medics are ready to intensify sanitary measures in connection with swine flu, depending on how the situation with the illness develops in the world.

"We are monitoring the situation and depending on how it changes we will correct the measures. Our measures are commensurate with the danger level declared by the WHO," head of Rospotrebnadzor (Federal Service for Consumer Rights Protection) and Russia's chief public health officer Gennadiy Onishchenko told Interfax today.

Control over all aircraft arriving from the American continent has been introduced in Russia. Passengers go through contact-free thermo frames, which show body temperature.

"If the situation changes, other measures will be put in place. If an outbreak of the flu occurs in Europe, in particular in Finland or Poland, then we will monitor ground checkpoints as well, including railway ones," Onishchenko said.

According to him, at the present time, only those aircraft which arrive from North and South America are being monitored. He said that there are no grounds so far for introducing restrictions on air services with the American continent. "For the time being, the situation which is developing there does not give grounds for such measures," he said.

Onihchenko reported that a meeting of the Russian governmental commission, which was created in connection with the global outbreak of the dangerous (strain of) flu, which medics are calling "California - 0409", took place yesterday.

"At the meeting previously taken decisions were confirmed that at the regional level plans for the creation of medicine reserves must be updated, hospitals' capabilities must be clarified and also measures for the prevention and pre-emption of illnesses (must be clarified)," he said. (Passage omitted: background)

There are no cases of swine flu in Russia. A Russian citizen who returned from Mexico was hospitalized in an infectious diseases hospital in Moscow with symptoms of a cold but fears that she could have swine flu were fortunately not borne out.

A doctor is the first person to meet passengers from aircraft from North and South America. When the aircraft door opens, the doctor receives a report from the senior flight attendant as to whether there are people with the symptoms of a cold among the passengers. According to instructions distributed by the sanitary service, if there are such people onboard the aircraft, then the aircraft can be sent to the sanitary siding.

All passengers arriving in Russia from the American continent pass through contact-free thermo frames which show body temperature. If it is raised, then the passenger can be hospitalized.

(RIA Novosti news agency reported Onishchenko as saying, "In particular, on Wednesday 669 passengers and also crew members from flights arriving from New York, Paris and other cities were examined. No people running a temperature were discovered."

In another RIA Novosti report, Onishchenko said that he considered some media reports that the pharmaceutical lobby is behind the swine flu "sensation" to be unfounded. However, he did not rule out that some pharmaceutical companies might use the situation to promote their products.).