China’s Leaders Take Visible Approach to Swine Flu
The New York Times reports on a Politburo Standing Committee meeting convened this morning by President Hu Jintao to discuss the swine flu outbreak. In an unprecedented move, the meeting was immediately announced to the public:
After struggling to cope six years ago with an outbreak of SARS, the Chinese leadership is taking a much more visible approach now to swine flu. Premier Wen Jiabao held a cabinet meeting on Tuesday morning to discuss preparations for the disease and call for an interagency effort to address it. President Hu announced a few hours later that China was stepping up its inspection and quarantine procedures for people and imports of pigs and pork products.
And on Wednesday, Vice Premier Li Keqiang toured the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Beijing and called for manufacturers to produce more face masks, sterilization chemicals and flu medicines.
East Asia, Central Asia and South Asia have not yet had a laboratory-confirmed case of swine flu, although suspected cases are being tested, notably in South Korea and Hong Kong. But flu experts predict that the disease will arrive in the region soon, if it has not already.
From Al Jazeera:
China should stockpile flu vaccines and other anti-flu drugs as soon as possible to help contain any outbreaks of swine flu, an expert who attended an emergency conference on government preparations for a possible pandemic told Caijing.
Research on a specialized swine flu vaccine is still ongoing, but current flu vaccines will offer some measure of protection and may help prevent infection, the expert, who declined to be identified, told Caijing. He spoke following the conference, which was called by the Chinese Center For Disease Control and Prevention on April 27.