Japan ups health inspections, seeks vaccines against swine flu

Japan ups health inspections, seeks vaccines against swine flu Tokyo  - Japan on Monday decided to upgrade health inspections on travellers returning from Mexico to prevent swine flu outbreaks in the nation while pushing to develop vaccines to prevent an epidemic.

As Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso ordered his cabinet ministers at a crisis meeting held Monday to ensure public safety, the Health Ministry vowed to begin developing vaccines against swine influenza.

The Finance Ministry would allocate funds, if necessary, to prevent the disease from spreading in the country, Finance Minister Kaoru Yosano said.

At Narita Airport, where direct flights arrive from Mexico, quarantine doctors were arranged to board planes to conduct inspections, and travellers entering Japan would be provided with medical care if any possibility of infections are detected, Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura said at a press conference.

The government also decided to extend support for Japanese nationals living abroad.

Japanese authorities conducted tests using thermographic imaging devices to check health conditions of travellers from Mexico and received numerous enquiries via telephone consulting services over the weekend.

Japanese heading for Mexico were also warned to reconsider their plans.

According to the Mexican Health Ministry, the number of dead in Mexico's flu epidemic rose to 103. At least 20 of the victims are confirmed to have been infected with the swine flu. (dpa)