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Corporate Japan stepped up efforts against the H1N1 influenza strain Thursday as employees returned to work en masse following the Golden Week holidays.

Electronics giant NEC Corp. set up thermographic cameras at the entrance to its headquarters in Minato Ward, Tokyo, to detect fevers.

Since some companies could temporarily lose 40 percent of their employees to sick leave if infected, under one government flu scenario, the government is trying to ensure that essential infrastructure will be sustained — food, water, gas, electricity and public transport.

Seibu Railway Co. is developing a computer simulation explaining how to reschedule train runs if several employees are suddenly incapacitated by the new flu, company officials said.

Tokyo Gas Co. President Mitsunori Torihara told reporters the gas supplier is arranging ways to separate healthy workers from the ill — even if the flu situation gets bad.

“We will do everything we can” to keep gas running, Torihara said.

Meanwhile, major supermarket chains Ito-Yokado Co. and Daiei Inc. are drawing up emergency plans to prevent the flu from spreading at their outlets. Limiting business hours and obliging employees to wear masks would be the immediate options, they said.

Teen tests negative

OSAKA, (Kyodo) An Osaka teenager who recently returned to Japan from Canada has not been infected with the new H1N1 flu strain, city officials said Thursday, citing further test results.

The girl initially had a fever as high as 39.7 and tested positive for influenza A. Further tests determined that she had contracted type-A Hong Kong flu, and not the new subtype that is quickly spreading around the globe, they said.

Earlier in the day, the Gifu Prefecture said a baby recently brought back from the United States tested negative for the new flu. No positive cases of the new flu have been confirmed so far in Japan.

Several people are returning from overseas with influenza A, and nine, including the Osaka girl and the Gifu baby, were given the so-called PCR test for virus gene analysis between Tuesday and Thursday.

A girl in Kyoto Prefecture who returned from Mexico was temporarily suspected of being a flu carrier but later found to have group A hemolytic streptococcus instead.

Gifu Prefecture has not released any details about the baby for privacy reasons.

Cameras for Mexico (Kyodo) Japan will provide Mexico with 25 thermographic inspection cameras to help the country strengthen quarantine checks for the new type of H1N1 influenza at airports and other places, the Foreign Ministry said Thursday.

The cameras and related equipment are worth a total of ¥76.5 million in emergency grant aid and will be sent to Mexico from Narita International Airport on Thursday evening, the ministry said in a press release.

Japan has already provided masks and goggles worth about ¥21 million to Mexico, after deciding on May 1 that Tokyo will provide the flu-hit country with emergency aid totaling up to ¥100 million.

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