In preparation for the possibility of the H7N9 bird flu virus from China reaching Japan, the government will enforce special emergency powers that will prevent an outbreak of the infectious disease. If the virus mutates into a transmittable disease between humans, the government will set up emergency headquarters, increase quarantine efforts at the airport and give vaccination to doctors and local government officials. The law was enacted in April 2012 but will take effect by May.
The new strain of the bird flu virus has already killed 10 and infected 38 people in China. Beijing announced last March 31 that for the first time, the strain was discovered in people. Because of this, experts say the possibility of it becoming easily transmittable between humans is very high. While the World Health Organization says there is no recorded case yet of human-to-human transmission, it is an “exceptional situation” as per the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).
Under the new emergency powers, local officials can cancel large events should the virus become prevalent in their area and schools can also be temporarily closed until further notice. If the infection will become widespread, the prime minister will have the power to declare a state of emergency and he also has the recourse to vaccinate the entire nation if needed. The National Institute of Infectious Diseases in Japan is already working on a new flu vaccine that will counteract the virus, after the Chinese government sent over samples from three patients in Shanghai.
[ via Global Post ]