Yunnan Governor Qin Guangrong (秦光荣) has ordered provincial health authorities to be vigilant in preventing the H1N1 influenza virus – which is slightly misleadingly being referred to as 'swine flu' (猪流感) in international and domestic media – with a focus on international travelers to the province, according to a Dushi Shibao report.
Travelers on international flights to Kunming Wujiaba International Airport that show any flu-like symptoms will be subject to "close observation" by provincial hygiene and medical staff. Dogs trained in sniffing out diseases have already been deployed at the airport to inspect luggage.
Yunnan hygiene bureau chief Chen Juemin (陈觉民) told reporters yesterday that the province was ready to take any steps necessary to prevent the spread of H1N1 into Yunnan and to contain it should it enter the province.
"However much money is needed, the government will spend that much", Chen said.
Chen did not announce any concrete measures that will be taken to prevent the entry of H1N1 influenza into Yunnan.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a phase 4 alert for the global H1N1 influenza outbreak, the phase before pandemic levels. According to WHO:
Phase 4 is characterized by verified human-to-human transmission of an animal or human-animal influenza reassortant virus able to cause "community-level outbreaks." The ability to cause sustained disease outbreaks in a community marks a significant upwards shift in the risk for a pandemic... Phase 4 indicates a significant increase in risk of a pandemic but does not necessarily mean that a pandemic is a forgone conclusion.
While no cases of H1N1 have been announced in China, the SARS outbreak of 2002 and 2003 is still fresh in the minds of many. So far this week, Asian travel and airline stocks have been hit by concerns that the virus could spread into Asia via international air travel – which was one of the main vehicles driving SARS' global spread.
International travel by local residents to high-risk areas was blamed for a cholera outbreak in villages near the city of Yuxi, 90 kilometers south of Kunming, in late January of this year. The outbreak infected at least 47 people before being contained.
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