Swine flu now a holiday priority

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 08 September, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 September, 2009, 12:00am

With all 31 provinces, regions and municipalities on the mainland reporting swine flu cases, health authorities are promising to strengthen the prevention and control of the disease in the run-up to the National Day celebrations.

According to a statement released after a State Council meeting chaired yesterday by Premier Wen Jiabao, any schools will be closed immediately when a case of swine flu is confirmed there.

The Health Ministry announced yesterday that every provincial-level jurisdiction had confirmed swine flu cases. Four reported their first cases at the weekend: Tibet on Sunday, and Xinjiang, Ningxia and Qinghai on Saturday. A total of 1,177 new cases were reported yesterday, of which 1,160 were contracted domestically. No deaths caused by the virus have been reported on the mainland.

The new policy came amid fears that the swine flu situation across the country will worsen through autumn and winter.

'Currently the global epidemic situation is getting worse,' said the statement from the State Council meeting.

'As autumn comes, the number of domestic cases in China is also on the rise ... The prevention and control work faces fresh obstacles.'

It also pinpointed schools as the key battleground against the virus and said classes should be suspended 'properly' to avoid mass infection when an outbreak was confirmed. The number of swine flu cases has been rising since the autumn semester began across the mainland last Tuesday.

Primary and secondary schools in Urumqi, Xinjiang, remained closed yesterday in the wake of a recent outbreak of 43 swine flu cases. Similar outbreaks have also been reported at schools in Henan, Hunan, Jiangsu , Anhui and Hainan , as well as the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region .

The State Council urged railway and aviation departments to improve their emergency plans in preparation for any possible epidemic outbreak in crowded situations during the coming National Day holiday, which, as a 'golden week', extends over the first week of October.

By last Friday night, 4,415 cases of (A)H1N1 flu had been reported on the mainland, of which 3,577 had recovered.