Seoul on guard against Chinese bird flu

Seoul (The Korea Herald/ANN) - The Seoul government is enhancing monitoring of a new strain of deadly bird flu originating from China.

Prime Minister Chung Hong-won inspected on Saturday Incheon International Airport's passenger terminal and customs and ordered a beefing up of quarantine measures.

Twenty additional officials as well as quarantine dogs will be placed at the airport to monitor travelers, according to the Prime Minister's office.

The foreign ministry has already issued a travel warning for those living in or traveling to China to take precautions against the spread of the H7N9 bird flu virus.

The World Health Organization announced that the virus had a higher potential for human-to-human transmission than any other known bird flu virus.

Four more people in China recently died of the virus, bringing the death toll to 36 from 131 confirmed cases, the World Health Organization said.

There have been no reports of the virus in South Korea, but the government decided to extend the operation of emergency situation units until May, and to conduct quarantine measures at airports and border check points as well as in places famous for observing migratory birds.

Meanwhile, North Korea has reportedly set up an emergency committee as part of a country-wide effort to cope with the bird flu threat.

North Korea has not officially reported the cases, but animal health officials in the country have announced H5N1 avian flu outbreaks in poultry near Pyongyang, according to the World Organization for Animal Health.

The first outbreak was at a commercial duck farm in April, and the virus affected an unspecified number of adult ducks, fattening ducks, and ducklings, the organization said.

The Rodong Sinmun, an organ of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea, said anti-bird flu measures had been implemented at all administrative levels of the government.

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