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China's Efforts on the Prevention and Control of SARS

  In the past few months, SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) has posed a great threat to the health of the people.  The Chinese government and people have spared no efforts fighting the disease.  Remarkable success has been achieved and valuable lessons have been learned in the SARS prevention and control in China.  Now while Hong Kong and Taiwan have been removed form the WHO travel warning list, the situation in the mainland is also encouraging.

  I. Development of SARS Epidemic in China
  SARS was first found in southern part of China at the end of last year.  The epidemic has experienced three major stages:
  -- From January to March, the epidemic was mainly in Guangdong Province.  By the end of March, the cumulative number of clinically confirmed cases in the mainland was 1,190, among which 1,153 cases, or 97% were in Guangdong Province.
  -- In April, the epidemic spread to some other areas of the mainland and was particularly serious in Beijing, Shanxi, Inner Mongolia, Hebei and Tianjin.  By the end of April, the cumulative number of clinically confirmed cases was 3,460, among which 3,368 cases, or 97.3% were from the five provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions in North China and Guangdong Province.
  -- In May and June, the epidemic leveled off and started to decline.  In early May, the average number of new cases per day was 151; in mid May, it was 45; in late May, it was 14; and from June 1 to now, it was almost zero.    
  On June 13, the WHO removed Hebei, Inner Mongolia, Shanxi and Tianjin from its travel warning list.  And the situation in Beijing is also improving rapidly.  For 9 consecutive days since June 11, there has been no new clinically confirmed case of SARS in Beijing.  
  As of 20 June, a total of 5,326 clinically confirmed cases have been reported in the mainland.  A total of 4,806 patients, or 90.2% have recovered and been discharged from hospital.  There were 347 deaths and mortality rate was 6.5%.  Currently, 166 SARS patients are still receiving treatment in hospitals.

  II. Major Measures Taken by China to Control SARS
  SARS is a brand new infectious disease.  At the beginning, China lacked knowledge on the infectious nature of the disease and people were not vigilant enough.  In addition, due to the huge and high mobility of the population and the inefficiency of some officials, our work to fight SARS had been somewhat passive for a period of time.  
  But the Chinese government soon came to realize the SARS challenge and has taken a series of prompt and decisive measures to fight against it.  It has become the top priority of the government agenda ever since.  By relying on science and technology, mobilizing the whole population, strengthening international cooperation, China has achieved great progress in preventing and controlling the disease.  
  -- Improving health legislation and managing SARS according to law.  
  ●The Chinese government included SARS in the list of statutory notifiable infectious diseases.  SARS was brought into management procedures in accordance with the Law of Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases.
  ●The State Council issued the Regulations on Public Health Emergency Response and the Ministry of Health formulated the Protocols of SARS Management.  
  ●The disease reporting system has been improved and prevention and treatment measures enhanced.  The local governments are required to detect and report the epidemic accurately and manage the epidemic according to law.  An open and transparent SARS cases report and information release system on the daily basis has been put in place.  Early detection, early reporting, early isolation and early treatment are required.  
  -- Optimizing organization and leadership and establishing unified coordination and command structure.  
  ●The State Council established SARS Control Headquarters headed by Vice-Premier Wu Yi.  Local governments at all levels have also set up SARS control steering panels and introduced a SARS control responsibility system for leaders of local governments.  
  ●The central government has sent experts-based inspection teams to 31 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions in the mainland to supervise and guide local SARS control work at close quarters.
  ●All medical resources are integrated and control measures are strengthened.  Crisis management mechanism for public health emergencies has also been improved.  
  -- Enhancing sanitation and public awareness.
  ●Rigorous sanitation measures have been taken to disinfect SARS contaminated places and articles in both hospitals and public areas.
  ●Extensive efforts have been made to publicize information on SARS control and prevention and to enhance public awareness and ability of self-protection, thus getting the whole society mobilized and ensuring mass prevention and control.
  -- Controlling SARS in rural areas by mobilizing the public.  
  ● Priority has been placed on epidemic control in the vast rural areas.  
  ● Stringent surveillance measures were put in place to monitor farmers and
  students who were returning to their hometowns from cities so as to cut off transmission.  
  ●Management over migrant workers has been strengthened to reduce their mobility.  
  ● Free treatment has been provided to farmer patients wherever they are infected.  
  As of the end of May, 241 clinically confirmed cases are farmers which shows that there has been no large-scale spread in rural areas.
  -- Enhancing travel quarantine and establishing passenger tracking mechanism.  
  ●The civil aviation, railway, boat and long-distance buses all introduced passenger surveillance, registration and tracking systems.  SARS patients, once found, are immediately isolated to cut off transmission.
  ●Strict measures have been taken at ports of exit and entry to ensure the health and safety of international travelers and to prevent the spread of the disease.  
  ●Medical examinations are provided to passengers traveling to foreign countries that require health certificate.  
  -- Mobilizing optimal resources to isolate and treat patients.  
  ●All SARS patients or suspected patients have been put in isolation and given treatment wherever detected.  
  ●All those having had close contact with SARS patients have been put in isolation or under observation wherever detected.  
  ●Designated hospitals or wards for SARS cases have been set up in many localities.  
  -- Treating SARS patients through the integration of western medicine and traditional Chinese medicine to improve treatment efficiency.  Experts of western medicine and traditional Chinese medicine were organized to study effective treatment regimens so as to improve recovery rate.  This has proved to be fruitful.
  -- Increasing government investment and providing medical assistance.  
  ●More than 1.2 billion US dollars have been allocated to purchase medical supplies, drugs and protective materials.  
  ●Farmers and urban residents having financial difficulties were treated free of charge.
  ●Medical assistance has also been offered to low-income urban residents.  
  -- Developing technical exchange and enhancing scientific research.
  ●Cooperation and exchange of information with WHO and other countries.  
  ●Academic exchanges of medical experts from the mainland, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan to share diagnosis and treatment experience and to work together on effective treatment and prevention of SARS.  
  ●Organizing medical experts to study the source of the epidemic, develop rapid diagnostics tests and medicine as well as vaccines.
  Since the outbreak of SARS, China has received wide support and assistance from all over the world.  Many Dutch companies and institutes have either made donations or expressed their willingness to provide technological assistance to China.  China sincerely appreciates their contributions.
  Now, the SARS situation in the mainland is on the whole under effective control, however, we shall keep on guard.  The task of fully controlling SARS is still arduous.  It is no time to be complacent.

  III. Economic Situation in China against the Backdrop of SARS
  While fighting SARS, the Chinese government has also taken active measures to reduce negative impact of SARS upon China’s economy.  In fact, China’s economy continues grew at a relevantly high speed in the first four months of this year.  China achieved a growth rate of 8.9% in April when SARS hit China most.  And foreign trade volume in this single month exceeded 70 billion US dollars.  Starting from June, operation of all the sectors affected by SARS epidemic, including tourism, catering, business exchanges is returning to normal.
  The Chinese government and people have every confidence and capability to overcome SARS and achieve further economic growth at the same time.  Dutch people and Dutch companies are most welcome either to visit China or invest in China.

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