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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
09BEIJING1596
2009-06-15 08:07:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Beijing
Cable title:  

CHINESE HEALTH OFFICIAL: H1N1 QUARANTINES WILL

Tags:   KFLU  KFLO  KSAF  KPAO  AEMR  ASEC  CASC  TBIO  PREL 
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VZCZCXRO8579
PP RUEHCN RUEHDH RUEHDT RUEHGH RUEHHM RUEHPB RUEHTM RUEHTRO RUEHVC
DE RUEHBJ #1596/01 1660807
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 150807Z JUN 09
FM AMEMBASSY BEIJING
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4510
INFO RUCNARF/ASEAN REGIONAL FORUM COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHZN/ENVIRONMENT SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEAUSA/DEPT OF HHS WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHPH/CDC ATLANTA GA PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/CJCS WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY
						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BEIJING 001596 

SIPDIS

HHS FOR OGHA
CDC ATLANTA FOR CCID, PASS TO FLU COX AND MOUNTS,
ALSO FOR CDC/COGH BLOUNT AND KELLEY

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/14/2019
TAGS: KFLU KFLO KSAF KPAO AEMR ASEC CASC TBIO PREL
PINR, AMGT, MG, EAGR, HHS, CH
SUBJECT: CHINESE HEALTH OFFICIAL: H1N1 QUARANTINES WILL
CONTINUE THRU JULY, AND FOR "GOOD" REASON

REF: A) BEIJING 1548 B) BEIJING 1466 C) BEIJING 1396
D) BEIJING 1377

Classified By: ESTH Counselor Brent Christensen for
reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

SUMMARY
-------



1. (C) BEGIN SUMMARY: During a June 12 meeting Beijing
Health and Human Services (HHS) Attache had with Director
General REN Minghui (please protect), head of the Ministry of
Health's (MOH) Department of International Cooperation, to
discuss other areas of the bilateral health relationship,
Ren stated that the current quarantine measures will continue
at least into July 2009. Ren also noted that: 1) the
Chinese government is currently conducting a detailed cost
effectiveness study on quarantine practices; 2) health
authorities hope through these measures to slow the
widespread transmission of the virus to buy more time for
improving the response infrastructure; and 3) the government
to some extent is motivated by fears of a public backlash if
they were perceived to be not &doing enough8 to protect the
population. Finally, he confirmed that Minister of Health
CHEN Zhu will travel to Canada and Mexico in upcoming weeks.
END SUMMARY.

BACKGROUND


--------------------------





2. (SBU) BACKGROUND: Since the identification of the
Novel Influenza A (H1N1) virus in North America, 28,734
infections by the Novel Influenza A (H1N1) virus worldwide
have been confirmed and China has approximately 200 cases
confirmed in 15 provinces and three municipalities (as of
June 15, 2009). To date, the confirmed cases in China are
reported to be recovering or have recovered without severe
complications. This virus has been spreading efficiently for
some time, and U.S. experts expect that, as with seasonal
influenza, more cases, more hospitalizations, and more deaths
will result from this virus worldwide. Current Chinese
quarantine measures appear excessive when compared to recent
risk assessments carried out by U.S. public health officials,
and Post has received an increasing number of inquiries and
complaints from or about quarantined American citizens who
are contemplating travel to China or have faced quarantine
measures imposed by local health officials and/or hosts. END
BACKGROUND.

RATIONALE BEHIND QUARANTINE MEASURES


--------------------------





3. (C) In a meeting with Beijing HHS Attache on June 12,
MOH's Director General for International Cooperation REN
Minghui (please protect) acknowledged that there is ongoing
debate within Chinese public health circles regarding the
appropriateness of existing quarantine measures. MOH also is
in the process of conducting a cost-effectiveness study on
quarantine, diagnosis, and treatment measures for the current
confirmed cases of H1N1 in China, the results of which will
be released later this summer. Ren stated that the current

Chinese policies will continue at least until the end of the
Chinese school year in early- to mid-July 2009 for three main
reasons. First, the current quarantine measures can buy the
Chinese government time to train additional healthcare
providers on effective response so that hospitals and
communities are not overtaxed, also allowing more time to
regroup and prepare diagnosis and treatment capacity for
the virus' inevitable spread in the fall. Second, given that
most strains of highly-pathogenic avian influenza A/H5N1
originate from Asia, avoiding or controlling community spread
of H1N1 in China will decrease the risk of viral reassortment

BEIJING 00001596 002 OF 002


in an individual that might be infected with both viruses.
Third, Chinese public opinion appears to favor the
government,s current quarantine measures. Ren noted that
the people &think the government is doing a great job
controlling and preventing community infection by H1N18 If
existing quarantine measures were to be removed, this could
result in the Chinese public perceiving that the government
is not doing enough.



4. (SBU) Finally, Ren confirmed that Health Minister Chen
Zhu would participate in several upcoming international
meetings. Minister Chen will lead a Ministry of Health
delegation on a trip to Canada this week to participate in
Canada-China bilateral meetings. He also will participate in
UN Economic and Social Committee (ECOSOC) meetings scheduled
to be held in New York in late-June before traveling onward
to Cancun, Mexico for bilats with Mexican counterparts on
July 2-3, during which respective official response measures
to H1N1 likely will be a primary focus.



5. (SBU) Post will continue to work, primarily through the
U.S. CDC presence in China, with China CDC on ensuring that
accurate information on the A/H1N1 influenza virus and its
risks are shared with relevant officials. Post also will
continue to monitor developments in China with respect to
existing quarantine policies, the cost-effectiveness study,
as well as overall infection statistics and trends.

COMMENT


--------------------------





6. (C) COMMENT: Although the reasons cited by this
official for China,s disproportionate response to the H1N1
pandemic may make a certain sense, of these reasons, the
third is probably the most important. Because of the
criticism China received in making to take action during the
SARS epidemic of 2003, plus the xenophobic fear of a
&foreign8 illness among the public, China,s health
authorities are unlikely to back down on excessive quarantine
procedures until they have enough political cover to do so.
END COMMENT
PICCUTA