Bird flu: Posters up at Changi, Seletar airports

PHOTO: Bird flu: Posters up at Changi, Seletar airports

SINGAPORE - Posters are up at Changi and Seletar airports to advise arriving travellers and returning residents to be vigilant against the H7N9 strain of bird flu and a deadly new Sars-like virus.

The advisories went up last Monday evening at the arrival halls, amid a growing number of confirmed H7N9 bird flu cases in China.

So far, the virus has infected more than 60 people, including a four-year-old child in Beijing.

Contacted last night, a spokesman for Singapore's Ministry of Health (MOH) stressed that the notices at the airports are a "precautionary measure".

The World Health Organisation has not recommended travel restrictions nor border controls, as there is no evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission of the Influenza A (H7N9) virus nor the Novel Coronavirus (NCoV), she said.

"The posters serve to heighten public awareness and to remind travellers to monitor their own health and seek early medical attention if needed," she said.

Travellers are advised to look out for signs and symptoms of respiratory illness, such as fever and coughs, and seek early medical attention if they display these symptoms.

On Saturday, The Straits Times reported that Changi Airport had conducted a briefing last Tuesday to update airlines on plans to issue health leaflets to all travellers arriving from China and the Middle East.

Apart from the H7N9 virus, global health authorities are also keeping a close eye on the Novel Coronavirus - a new deadly virus from the same family as the severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars).

Nine of the 15 people confirmed to have been infected with the Novel Coronavirus have died. Most cases have been in the Middle East or affected people who had recently travelled to the region.

The MOH will continue to monitor the situation and work with other agencies to institute appropriate control measures as the situation evolves, said its spokesman.

Building from past experience with Sars in 2003 and the H1N1 pandemic in 2009, Singapore has a "whole-of-government" national crisis management system in place with plans and capabilities to deal with a pandemic if one should occur, the ministry has said.

Airlines are also keeping their staff informed of the latest.

Singapore Airlines spokesman Nicholas Ionides said on Friday that the airline is well prepared to work with the public health authorities if the need arises.

The carrier recently provided information about H7N9 to its employees, which included a reminder to staff to follow good health practices, he said.

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