China highly values the cooperation between itself and ASEAN countries in tackling the potential pandemic of influenza A/H1N1, hoping to enhance their joint efforts in public health measures, flu diagnosis and treatment and scientific research, Chinese Health Minister Chen Zhu told Xinhua on Thursday in Bangkok.
Chen made this remark as he and his Thai counterpart Witthaya Kaewparadai finished the bilateral talk on Thursday morning, during which they exchanged the updates about each countries' measures and progress on tackling the threat of A/H1N1 influenza virus.
Mentioning the ASEAN+3 health ministers' special meeting on influenza A/H1N1 that is scheduled for Thursday and Friday in the Thai capital, Chen said the meeting is timely since the global effort of influenza A/H1N1 control and prevention is at such a juncture.
A joint statement on influenza A/H1N1 issue will be signed on Friday's session by the participating health ministers from the ASEAN and three dialogue partners -- China, Japan and the Republic of Korea. Chen said this statement will underline the resolution of the 13 countries to cooperate to deal with the threat of the new flu variant.
Chen said the ASEAN countries, China, Japan and the Republic of Korea all feature high population density and large traveling flow. Public health facilities of some countries are still comparatively unsound, and the stockpiling level of vaccine and antiviral medicines is different among countries. Information sharing and resources adjustment, therefore, will help to foster a regional cooperation mechanism on epidemic control and prevention, Chen said.
China will actively respond Thailand's suggestion on setting up an information-sharing hot line Chen said, adding that China has established a information-sharing system with some countries and areas during the outbreaks of SARS and avian flu. He believed that the ASEAN Plus Three special meeting and the subsequent actions will help to improve the efficiency of this system and to ensure instant information-sharing among all participating states.
Chen noted the need for China to further strengthen the customs inspection to prevent spreading of the new flu, though he did not think a international travel restriction is necessary.
Clusters of influenza A/H1N1 outbreaks have appeared in multiple locations in Mexico, the United States and then across the world, taking the death toll of at least 31 since the first infection case was reported on 17 March. According to latest WHO's report, at least 1,893 confirmed cases have been found in 23 countries globally.