The Japanese government will be introducing countermeasures in case an outbreak of the new strain of the bird flu virus, H7N9, reaches Japanese shores. The health ministry panel has listed down several measures, including granting the prefectural governor the authority to endorse for hospitalization the suspected patients and to impose work restrictions in case of an outbreak.
The virus, which has killed 21 and infected around 104 people in China, has not materialized yet on Japanese shores, but the threat and possibility is always there, especially now that they suspect it has the potential to spread to and through mammals, including people. The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry will be introducing the new measures by early May and they will also be revising some government ordinances under the Infectious Disease Law and the Quarantine Law. Under the new measures, patients who work in the hospitality or food industries are required to not go in or else risk getting punished if they refuse to comply.
The panel also recommended designating bird flu caused by the H7N9 virus to be under the Infectious Disease Law so that emergency measures can be introduced without going through the usual procedures. Both the H5N1 strain of the bird flu virus and the SARS virus also underwent similar measures. Earlier this month, the National Institute of Infectious Diseases has already begun work on a vaccine for the virus, in case it does mutate into something that can be passed through human-to-human interaction.
The World Health Organization has convened a team of experts to study further the origin and characteristics of this new strain. China has also added more measures to prevent further spread of the virus. Some markets where live poultry is sold have been closed and they have also put a stop to the sale of wild birds. Human and animal contact at zoos has also been temporarily stopped until the spread of the virus will be contained.
[via Jagran Post]