Monday, September 7, 2009

The Chinese Government's Concerns over H1N1

While all countries hope to minimize the impact of H1N1 flu on their citizens, China is showing special concern as their National Day Celebration approaches on October 1. Government officials there realize that the flu situation will become more severe as fall progresses and intend to focus many of their prevention efforts on schools. In fact, in several provinces primary and secondary schools have been closed for several days after about 40 students contracted the flu there. Additionally, government officials urged transportation authorities to refine their epidemic emergency procedures in order to minimize the spread of the illness among those traveling throughout the country. Especially telling was the government's urging of public health officials to be ready to deal with outbreaks around National Day celebrations.

This article reminded me of Don Francis' comments about vaccination in North Korea. He noted that under such an authoritarian, organized regime, it was easy to vaccinate all of the children in the country in a short period of time. While China is more open than North Korea, power there is still highly centralized. With strict warnings to schools, health workers, and transportation officials, it is clear that the Chinese government is willing to exert its authority in potentially excessive ways in order to stop the spread of the illness, especially near the national holiday. How successful these measures are and whether they stop the spread of the flu in China will be interesting to see. Currently, China is reporting fewer than 5000 cases of the flu.

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