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China blamed for "overreacting" to A/H1N1 influenza virus
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09:16, May 22, 2009

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Measures China has taken against two different contagious diseases, SARS and A/H1N1 influenza virus, have both been subject to criticism from abroad. For SARS, China was blamed for a sluggish response but this time, it is being criticized for "overreacting."

China was totally unprepared for the abrupt outbreak of SARS and measures taken at the beginning were not scientific enough. However, the Chinese government adopted scientific and effective measures and finally brought the epidemic under control. Unexpectedly, China's prevention and control approaches to A/H1N1 influenza virus have been criticized by some government officials and experts from western countries, who claim that China has "overreacted." Prior to this, they have also rebuked the World Health Organization (WHO) for overreacting to this new type of flu.

So is China still overreacting to this new type of flu epidemic which is still spreading in many countries? A thorough analysis would determine that China's response is people-oriented, positive and effective. Not only should China not receive criticism, it deserves applause and other countries should follow suit.

First of all, the argument of "overreaction" is groundless. One of the viewpoints is that China cannot differentiate this new virus strain from the SARS virus in terms of lethality and transmissibility. It should be known that as this new type of flu epidemic is still in the initial stage, the WHO and many medical experts from these countries admit that it remains unknown whether this new type of flu virus will mutate and whether it will stage a comeback. There have been historical lessons that show the second wave of flu outbreaks can take tens of millions of lives.

The new virus strain has not claimed so many lives this far. However, before a scientific conclusion involving the nature of the virus is reached, any arbitrary statement is unscientific.

Government officials from relevant countries had also criticized China's quarantine measures, complaining about the discrimination suffered by their citizens. In fact, China's quarantine measures treated the suspected patients, whether they are from home or abroad, equally without discrimination. The remarks on China's "discrimination" do not make sense. Is there anyone who has been quarantined ever claimed that they were discriminated? China has conducted exchanges with relevant countries through various channels, sincerely expressing the intention to intensify international cooperation in the respect to the prevention and control of the new epidemic.

The strict preventative measures China adopted also made great contributions to the prevention of the virus from spreading further, said premier Wen Jiabao: What China did was not only to protect the health of 1.3 billion Chinese people, but also contributed to the prevention work of the whole world.

Facts prove that the strict preventative measures as well as education on the flu not only assured the pubic, but also won understanding and support from society.

Since the outbreak of the epidemic, only a few imported and suspect cases have been found in China, and most of the people who had close contact with the patients have been released from isolation. There is a sharp contrast when comparing China with the countries where the number of infected people continued to increase, proving that China's measures are scientific and effective.

While responding to the criticisms toward the WHO, Margaret Chan, Director-General of World Health Organization (WHO) said that facing the epidemic, we would rather make excessive preparations than no preparations at all when facing the disease.

By People's Daily Online

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