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2013年4月16日 (火)

インフル特措法 「新型」流行への備えを万全に

The Yomiuri Shimbun April 16, 2013
Meticulous preparations needed to curb spread of new types of flu
インフル特措法 「新型」流行への備えを万全に(4月14日付・読売社説)

A law concerning special measures to counter new strains of influenza that could trigger an epidemic has been put into force. It requires the central and local governments to meticulously prepare to prevent the spread of the new types of flu.

A new flu virus found in birds and pigs has mutated genetically and is thought to be capable of spreading from person to person.

As nobody is immune to the new strain of virus, it could spread explosively and possibly claim many lives.

Some people have been infected with the new strain of bird flu virus in Shanghai, its environs and even in Beijing. But so far there have been no confirmed cases of person-to-person infection. At this moment, the latest type of flu is not among the strains stipulated by the new law.

Remain on guard

The nation must not let its guard down. The government has appropriately put the new law into force earlier than originally planned in order to put relevant systems into place promptly.

When a new type of flu broke out in 2009, prefectural and municipal governments dealt differently with planned public events, causing confusion.

The law concerning special measures has been established based on the lessons learned from that incident. It obliges the central and local governments to map out action plans.

If a large number of casualties are predicted with an outbreak of a new type of flu, the prime minister would declare a state of emergency, with the central and local governments taking measures based on their action plans.
One key point is that prefectural governors are authorized under the new law to close local schools and kindergartens. They are also authorized to instruct such venues as theaters, museums, and department stores to limit their hours or suspend operations. Should they fail to follow the instruction, the governor can make their names public.

This is understandable because such infections tend to spread instantly when many people gather at one place. While such emergency suspensions could restrict some economic activities, they may be inevitable.

Should such measures be prolonged, however, they would adversely affect corporate business activities and the overall economy. Therefore, such restrictions should be minimized, which makes it important for the authorities to accurately determine the virulence of a virus.

Stable supply of goods

To ensure a stable supply of such necessities as medicines and foods, the central and local governments are also empowered under the new law to oblige private businesses to deliver goods. This step could be considered analogous to dealing with such disasters as a major earthquake.

The new law also calls for efficient vaccination, with priority given to medical personnel and workers in the railways, electricity and gas services. This is necessary to allow people to carry on with their daily activities.

Nevertheless, a vaccine cannot prevent people from being infected with the virus. It can only reduce the number of people who develop symptoms or reduce the severity of symptoms that do develop.

First of all, the government must remind people to take such preventive measures as washing their hands regularly and refraining from going out unnecessarily if they have symptoms of being infected.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, April 14, 2013)
(2013年4月14日01時37分  読売新聞)


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