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Japan tightens screening of visitors from Ame -

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Reporter: Mark Willacy

PETER CAVE: South Korean health officials believe they've identified the region's first case of
swine flu.

Meanwhile in neighbouring Japan the global spread of the virus has set off a near panic. The
country has now imposed tough new restrictions on Mexicans who want to enter Japan, and is
screening every plane-load of arrivals from North America.

It's also booked hundreds of hotel rooms near the country's main international airport, in case it
needs to quarantine suspected flu sufferers.

North Asia correspondent Mark Willacy reports from Tokyo.

(Sound of children in classroom)

MARK WILLACY: In this primary school in Tokyo, a class of restless 10-year-olds watches as their
teacher draws a picture of a pig on the blackboard.

Then with an artistic flourish he sketches an arrow linking the pig with the image of a child. The
message is clear - swine flu is a threat to all.

(Sound of teacher speaking Japanese)

"I'll now show you what to do to avoid this flu," instructs the teacher.

So far, Japan has avoided swine flu but many here believe it's just a matter of time before the
virus arrives.

At Narita International Airport near Tokyo, quarantine officials wearing masks and gowns are
boarding every plane landing from North America - about 30 flights a day.

Passengers have their temperatures checked by thermograph scanners and then have to fill in health
questionnaires and provide contact phone numbers.

(A woman speaking Japanese)

"They gave us masks to wear" says this passenger. "We were stuck inside the plane for over an hour.
Children were bored and crying," she says.

(A man speaking Japanese)

"I felt it was way over the top" says this man. "If it was a flight from Mexico then fair enough"
he says.

(A woman speaking Japanese)

"When we arrived quarantine officials boarded our plane, then I realised how serious the situation
is," says this woman.

(Yoichi Masuzoe speaking)

"We are looking back 10 days through the passenger roster" says Japan's Health Minister Yoichi
Masuzoe. "We'll then track these people down and do follow-up health checks" he says.

As well as boarding planes and doing follow-up screening, Japanese health authorities have booked
500 hotel rooms near Narita airport in case they have to quarantine suspected swine flu sufferers
just arrived in the country.

And there's expected to be fewer Mexicans arriving in Japan after the Government in Tokyo ordered a
tightening of visa measures.

Now, Mexicans can no longer visit Japan visa-free. If they want to come they have to get a medical
certificate first, then mail it and a visa application to one of Japan's consulates in Mexico.

Apparently, they want applications mailed so that no Japanese consulate staff will be exposed to
the virus.

On Japanese subways, on its streets, and in its shops, it's usual to see people wearing face masks.

Here, the masks are worn by people who are feeling a little off to stop the spread of their lurgy,
and they're also used to prevent infection.

But in this nation of hygiene-obsessed people, stocks of the ubiquitous face mask are in perilously
short supply.

(A woman speaking Japanese)

"I came straight to the store when I heard the news," says this woman, "because supplies of masks
are apparently running low."

(A woman speaking Japanese)

"I want to buy more masks to protect against the swine flu," says another shopper.

For many Japanese, a holiday wallowing in tequila and tacos is now a distant dream. Travel agencies
have cancelled all trips to Mexico.

And Japanese companies with branches in Mexico have recalled their workers.

Even a music festival to celebrate the 400th anniversary of relations between Japan and Mexico has
been called off. After all, it's hard to sing and sip champagne through a face mask.

This is Mark Willacy in Tokyo for The World Today.