Jorge Chavez International Airport employees to obligatorily use masks, gloves

After Peru’s third case of swine flu was confirmed, employees at Jorge Chavez International Airport were told Wednesday they must use of masks and gloves to help stem a feared pandemic.

“We are making the use of masks and gloves compulsory,” Callao Regional Health Manager, José del Carmen Sara told state official news agency Andina. “We want all airport employees to be protected, just in case a passenger with the swine flu lands in Peru.”

According to del Carmen, all customs officials and airline agents have been provided with masks and gloves to avoid contamination by the AH1N1 virus.

Peru National Police and Natural Resources Institute employees will also be provided with masks and gloves, but souvenir and coffee shops located in the airport will be responsible for providing their employees with the required equipment.

In addition to the masks and gloves, more medical personal will be hired to reduce any further possibility that an infected passenger leaves the airport undetected, said the airport’s Health and Sanitation chief, Pedro Velásquez.

“We currently have 55 doctors and nurses working in and around the airport, taking people’s temperature and having them sign a sworn declaration about their state of health,” said Velásquez said in comments to Radio Nacional.

Peru confirmed Monday the Andean country’s third case of swine flu. A woman, who flew in from the Dominican Republic, is said to be responding well to treatment.

Swine influenza, or “swine flu,” is a highly contagious acute respiratory disease of pigs, caused by one of several swine influenza A viruses. The virus is spread among pigs by aerosols, direct and indirect contact, and asymptomatic carrier pigs.

In humans, clinical symptoms are similar to seasonal influenza, but reported clinical presentation ranges broadly from asymptomatic infection to severe pneumonia resulting in death.

According to the World Health Organization, or WHO, “if a swine virus establishes efficient human-to human transmission, it can cause an influenza pandemic. The impact of a pandemic caused by such a virus is difficult to predict: it depends on virulence of the virus, existing immunity among people, cross protection by antibodies acquired from seasonal influenza infection and host factors.”

As of May 19, 2009, 40 countries have officially reported 9830 cases of influenza AH1N1 infection, including 79 deaths.

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