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2013年4月 8日 (月)

中国鳥インフル 感染実態を迅速に開示せよ

[The Yomiuri Shimbun] April 8, 2013
EDITORIAL / Chinese govt must promptly disclose full details of new bird flu virus
中国鳥インフル 感染実態を迅速に開示せよ(4月7日付・読売社説)

It has been confirmed for the first time that humans have been infected with a new type of avian influenza, the H7N9 virus, in Shanghai, Jiangsu Province, and neighboring areas in China.

The infection is spreading, and has caused several deaths. An epidemic of this flu might erupt not only in other parts of China, but also on a global scale.

To contain the spread of this disease, it is important for the Chinese government to beef up countermeasures and make sure all necessary information is properly disclosed.

It remains unknown how the victims became infected. Some reportedly were engaged in selling pork or processing chicken meat. The H7N9 virus has been detected in pigeons and chickens at Shanghai's wholesale market.

The Chinese government must confirm the true extent of the spread of this new strain as quickly as possible.

A major problem is that the Chinese government has failed to promptly provide enough information thus far. It first announced H7N9 infections about one month after the first known human death from the strain.

Media controls a concern

When China was gripped by the SARS epidemic in 2003, its government initially concealed the truth, which caused the disease to spread and triggered widespread social turmoil.

The Chinese government is apparently more willing to share information this time, but its control over media coverage is still a cause of concern.

Although China has become the world's second-largest economy, its supervisory systems to ensure food safety and hygiene remain inadequate.

In March, thousands of pig carcasses were dumped in a river that flows through Shanghai. China should implement stricter safety control measures.

China is not the only one whose response to the new flu strain is in the spotlight.

According to analysis by the World Health Organization and other bodies, the H7N9 virus is completely different to the H1N1 and other new strains that affected many parts of the world in the past 10 to 20 years, and it also spreads in different ways.

Japan should be prepared

The H7N9 strain is believed to have a cocktail of genes of the three types of avian flu that became epidemics in China, South Korea and other areas. The virus seems to have become potent enough to infect humans due to genetic mutations that occurred while it was transmitted repeatedly among birds and other animals.

The H7N9 strain is remarkable in that infected birds and animals do not show any symptoms. There are fears that more people could become infected while abnormal situations--such as mass bird deaths--do not occur.

It is crucial that researchers from around the world work together in assessing and analyzing the new bird flu.

We hope the Japanese government also will take every possible step to combat the new strain. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga has quite rightly told the Health, Welfare and Labor Ministry to gather information related to this outbreak.

Under a law for dealing with new types of influenza that comes into effect later this month, the central and local governments, in accordance with action plans they will compile, can urge the public to stay indoors to help contain the spread of the disease. This law should play the central role in this nation's response to the disease.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, April 7, 2013)
(2013年4月7日01時32分  読売新聞)


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