The outbreak of swine fever is a tragic development for any country. China is dealing with it with due seriousness. President Hu Jintao convened a meeting of the Standing Committee of the Politburo — the nine men who run China — that was immediately announced.
It is rare for China’s authorities to disclose any meeting of the standing committee, and particularly to do so as soon as the meeting ended.
Premier Wen Jiabao held a cabinet meeting on Tuesday morning to discuss preparations for the disease and call for an inter-agency effort to address it.
President Hu announced a few hours later that China was stepping up its inspection and quarantine procedures for people and imports of pigs and pork products.
The Vice Premier Li Keqiang toured the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Beijing and called for manufacturers to produce more face masks, sterilization chemicals and flu medicines.
Dr. Guan Yi, a microbiologist at Hong Kong University, said that China and India will face particular challenges in coping with swine flu because both countries have more than a billion people, many of them living close together.
‘We need to believe this virus has a chance to go to every corner of the world — the only question is how fast,’ he said.
The energetic response by Beijing officials resembles the swift response by the leadership to the Sichuan earthquake almost a year ago.
China’s agriculture ministry said on Wednesday that swine flu had not been found in the country’s pigs and that China had not been the origin of the virus.
The New York Times reports heavy news media attention to the issue in Hong Kong, where the government is holding daily televised briefings, may have also raised awareness of the disease in mainland China. Extensive and growing Internet traffic, phone calls and actual visits increasingly bind the two populations together.