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China outlines tighter anti-flu measures following WHO's pandemic declaration (06/12/09)


BEIJING, June 12 (Xinhua) -- China on Friday promised to increase efforts to stem the A/H1N1 virus after the World Health Organization (WHO) raised the flu alert to its highest level.

Mao Qun'an, a spokesman with the Health Ministry, said the country "understands, supports and cooperates with" the world health body's pandemic declaration, pledging to further beef up its flu prevention and control work.

The WHO on Thursday raised its pandemic alert from phase 5 to phase 6,the highest level, formally declaring the widely spreadingA/H1N1 influenza has developed into a global pandemic.

"As the objective for the current stage, we'll endeavor to decrease domestic cases, prevent community transmission, step up treatment of serious cases and cope with possible future changes of the epidemic," Mao told a press conference here.

He said the previous policy of "keeping the virus outside the border and preventing its spread within the country" had proved to be effective and practical and would be continued.

As of 8 a.m. Friday, 13 Chinese mainland provinces and municipalities had reported 126 confirmed A/H1N1 flu cases, of whom 60 had recovered and been discharged from hospitals. There have been no deaths, according to Mao.

Mao outlined concrete steps, including improving the joint prevention and control mechanism at different regions and different levels, increasing the number of labs and designated hospitals nationwide, enhancing medical workers' diagnosis and treatment ability to avoid fatalities, increasing drug stockpiles and vaccination production, and increasing public health awareness and winning public support.

WHO's Representative in China Hans Troedsson said at the same press conference that under phase 6, the WHO is encouraging governments to focus on caring for A/H1N1 patients instead of trying to contain the disease.

"Health systems should prepare to manage more cases in terms of volume and possibly severity," he said.

Countries must enhance their public education campaigns to provide accurate and up-to-date information on A/H1N1 for the public, he said.

"They should talk about not just what the government is doing in this pandemic, but also how people can protect themselves and others," he said.

Though Troedsson admitted the disease had been rapidly brought under control in China, he warned of a further increase of A/H1N1 cases and a greater challenge in the country.

Vivian Tan, the WHO's China office spokeswoman, told Xinhua Friday that so far, China's response to the current influenza A/H1N1 situation has been "adequate and appropriate".

The authorities have recognized that should a pandemic break out, it will take more than the health sector to keep the situation under control, she said.

As a result, the government has set up eight working groups with experts from the Ministries of Health, Science and Technology, Commerce, and Foreign Affairs, among others. "This multi-sector coordination will be crucial in this pandemic situation," she said.

The WHO has also been impressed by the smooth flow of information so far, she said. "The whole process has been quite transparent, with regular meetings, press briefings and news updates on the website of the Ministry of Health."

As of Thursday, 75 countries and regions had officially reported 28,774 cases of A/H1N1 infections, including 144 deaths.



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