Australia has imposed stricter measures on aircraft arriving from the Americas in an effort to contain the spread of swine flu.

The Australian Department of Health and Ageing says in a statement that "before all planes are permitted to land in Australia from the Americas the captain will be required" to report to the Australian Quarantine Inspection Service (AQIS) on the health status of the passengers on the plane.

"If there is any person on the plane who is considered to have flu-like symptoms they will be seen by an AQIS officer who will assess if medical attention is required."

It also says there will need to be onboard announcements, made by the crew on all flights coming to Australia, informing passengers that "if they feel unwell with flu symptoms they should ensure they seek immediate medical attention."

These tighter border surveillance measures are designed "to ensure that people entering Australia are identified if they have influenza and that those people who may later develop symptoms have information on what they should do," says the department.

The Australian Government is monitoring the swine flu situation overseas and "is ready to escalate the level of response as required", it adds.

There are no confirmed cases of swine flu in Australia but there are 17 suspected cases.

Australia is being vigilant because it wants to protect the country's pork industry, one of its major exports to Asia.

There is no evidence swine flu is linked to port consumption but misconceptions over the matter have already led some countries such as China and Russia to ban the import of pork products from Mexico and parts of the USA.

Mexico is at the centre of the swine flu outbreak and there are also confirmed cases in the USA and Canada.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news