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WHO officer says China doing "quite well" in handling flu with SARS experiences
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08:16, May 07, 2009

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· World moves to contain the spread of A/H1N1 flu
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A World Health Organization (WHO) officer said Wednesday that China has done "quite well" in battling against a possible pandemic of the A/H1N1 influenza.

"Overall, WHO feels that China has handled the situation with influenza A/H1N1 quite well," said Vivian Tan, communications officer with the WHO China, in a written reply to Xinhua.

"China's experiences with SARS and avian influenza have prepared it well for the current situation with influenza A/H1N1,"she said.

However, the officer warned that "if it turns into a pandemic, China will probably not be spared."

What's important is to mitigate the impact of the pandemic by focusing on early detection, public information, social distancing and treatment, she said.

The 1.3 billion-populated country has mobilized several governmental sectors including Ministries of Health, Agriculture, Foreign Affairs and China Center for Disease Control to be engaged in prevention of the influenza's outbreak.

The State Council, China's Cabinet, has added 5 billion yuan (725 million U.S. dollars) for flu prevention and control work to nationwide health education campaigns about the virus.

The WHO officer said China's proactive response and multi-sectoral approach are crucial to ensuring a well-coordinated response.

"Immediately after we informed the Ministry of Health about the outbreak in North America, China activated its national pandemic preparedness and response plan," Tan said.

China increased surveillance of possible symptoms from the virus and informed all health workers countrywide to be on the lookout for and to investigate suspicious symptoms, the officer said.

In reply to Xinhua's inquiry about the quarantine measures for some foreigners in China, the WHO officer said the U.N. agency does not have specific comments on the measures since its application is up to each country depending on its own situation.

"The WHO has made general recommendations on how countries should respond globally, however, it is ultimately up to each country to take measures it deems appropriate based on its own risk assessment and specific circumstances," said Tan.

"How quarantine is applied is up to each country depending on the context," the officer said, adding that the WHO believes that quarantine is one of several measures can be taken to try to limit the spread of an influenza virus.

A flight crew of 13 Mexicans and 166 passengers who stayed in the Chinese mainland were put into quarantine from May 1 after taking Mexican flight Aeromexico 098 from Mexico City to Shanghai.

The quarantine came after a 25-year-old male Mexican who took the same flight was confirmed on Friday in Hong Kong to be infected with influenza A/H1N1.

A chartered flight from Mexico has flown to Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing and bring back some Mexicans in quarantine and those who worked and lived in China but were not under quarantine. The government-funded jet arrived in Mexico City Wednesday with 136 passengers on board.

So far the Health Ministry has not released any total numbers of quarantined foreigners and Chinese nationals, nor any further information about the quarantined except a repeated fact that they showed no influenza symptoms.


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