Tuesday, May 5, 2009

China quarantine measures are crucial to keep the swine flu (A/H1N1) at the borders

By China Watcher
For the past few days, the Western media had an “open day” reporting of the overly aggressive approach used by the “authoritarian government” of China in putting about 70 suspected Mexicans under quarantine. These reporters would go to every extent to interview the affected Mexicans to highlight the negative side of the ordeal and stressed that the rights of the foreigners have been infringed. Some of them even tried to link it to the extreme measures taken in locking down Tibet last year months ahead of the Olympic Games. What has this got to do with the swine flu? It is not surprising as it is expected if the news come from Western news agencies. Fortunately a high percentage of people of Chinese origin do not rely on Western sources for their information.

I fully support the Chinese government in the use of its existing laws (the isolation approach) to prevent the outbreak of contagious disease in the country. China is a huge country with a population of about 1.35 billion and if there is a runaway pandemic, the impact would really be severe and could result in deaths of an unimaginable proportion. Then, who is to be blame? Not the West.

Most Chinese online users also support the decision to quarantine Mexicans. A poll by major information portal Sina.com showed that 92.5 percent of 4,263 online users said the quarantine was "a necessary preventive method and had nothing to do with discrimination". The quarantine measures were taken in the interest of both the detained guests and the public.

Yesterday, the Chinese government also quarantined 29 students, the majority of them are Canadians, in a hotel over the suspicions that the Canadians, the second highest risk group besides the Mexicans, have contacted the deadly flu. Even Chinese nationals who returned from Mexico are subjected to preventive measures. All these proved that what the Mexicans claimed that the quarantine acts are discriminatory in nature is clearly unfounded.

Being supportive of Mexico as a Third World and a developing nation, China offered US$5 million in aid to Mexico last Wednesday – US$1 million in cash and US$4 million in medical supplies - the first country to send aid after the epidemic broke out. Yesterday, the second batch of US$5 million of disinfection tools, gloves and screener equipments were transported out from Guangdong Province to Mexico

The Ministry of Health (MOH) said yesterday although the mainland has not yet reported any cases of H1N1, there is a possibility of the virus making its way. The General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) said yesterday six more supervision teams had been sent to Shandong, Hebei, Sichuan, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Hunan, Hubei and Shaanxi provinces to work with local authorities in epidemic prevention. It sent five teams to Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou in late April.

The Chinese government hoped that Mexico would understand the current strict measures adopted and that the two countries can jointly addressed the epidemic in an objective manner without any strong emotional outburst.

I think it is a wise move on the part of the Mexican government to issue travel warnings to China. At least the Chinese government can devote more efforts and resources to curb the spread of the virus from elsewhere and also, to develop cost effective vaccines for the Chinese people and the world.

China need not follow the “relax-type approach” of the West in the implementation of preventive measures during a potential disaster or a crisis. The measures undertaken must be effective and practical. The important thing is to ensure that the health and safety of its people are protected at all times.

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