Customs agents step up border screenings in response to swine flu
By Jose Luis Jiménez (Contact) Union-Tribune Staff Writer
4:18 p.m. April 26, 2009

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U.S. customs agents have stepped up border health screenings to slow the spread of swine flu, but they say they do not anticipate the extra efforts will cause significant delays.

Conducting health screenings at the San Ysidro Port of Entry – the world's busiest border crossing – could be a logistical challenge during commute hours, but port officials said they are prepared to deal with it.

They have begun asking further questions if someone shows up at the border with flu symptoms or if an agent feels it necessary. Officials from the Centers for Disease Control or local health officials could be contacted for further screening and a decision on whether to allow the person to enter into the country.

Agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement have gloves and surgical masks to protect themselves if they encounter someone with symptoms. They will give the potentially infected person the same protective gear and escort the person to a secondary inspection area.
Lindbergh Field has three international flights – two from San José del Cabo in Mexico and the other from Vancouver, Canada – according to its Web site. Officials do not anticipate the additional screenings will disrupt airport operations.

Some airlines are waiving fees for passengers flying to Mexico in the next two weeks who want to change travel plans. Travelers should contact the airline directly for more information.

The U.S. government has not banned travel to Mexico but is asking travelers to use precautions normally done during flu season to avoid getting sick.

Jose Luis Jiménez: (619) 293-1865; (Contact) ... ms-agents/