While hard information on China's 5th epidemic wave of H7N9 is slow to emerge, for the third day in a row the Chinese government is reporting on high level meetings being held over the status and control of their record-setting H7N9 epidemic.
Yesterday we looked at a national video conference held by China's MOA, while on Tuesday we saw the NHFPC National Video Conference on the epidemic.
Today, China's Premier Li Keqiang was briefed on the epidemic, and afterwards he reportedly urged live poultry markets to shut down. The following (translated) excerpt describing today's meeting comes from a report posted on the Central Government's website (http://www.gov.cn/)
The meeting pointed out that this year China's H7N9 epidemic compared with previous years earlier, the number of cases increased. All regions and relevant departments in accordance with the Party Central Committee and State Council, the effective implementation of joint defense control.
The next step is to open the transparent and timely release of the authority of the information, to prevent panic, to guide poultry practitioners and the public to do protection.
Two to do a good job in case treatment, to minimize the severity and death cases. Enrich the power of treatment, to ensure drug supply, the relevant treatment costs into health insurance.
Third, we must strengthen the epidemic monitoring and early warning, to strengthen the regulation of live birds and farms, strict implementation of live poultry market closed, disinfection, quarantine and other systems, found cases or detection of the source of the city and county as soon as possible to close the live poultry market, Kill and other measures. Severely punish the illegal transport, operation, slaughter and other acts.
Fourth, we must implement the "scale farming, centralized slaughter, cold chain transport, chilled listing" new model to promote the upgrading of poultry industry.
The move away from live bird markets to `chilled' or frozen chicken has been attempted before, but has always been met with strong public resistance. Even after Beijing Ordered Closure Of Live Bird Markets To Control H7N9 late last week, many poultry markets apparently remain open.
In the past hour Reuters is reporting:
China's Prime Minister urged local authorities to shut down live poultry markets in places affected by the H7N9 bird flu virus which killed 79 people in January, a statement from China's cabinet said.
Chicken prices sank to their lowest level in more than a decade last week and concerns about H7N9 deepened after global health authorities said the strain had evolved into a more severe form for birds.(Continue . . .)
Despite ample evidence that the closure of live bird markets dramatically reduces the spread of H7N9 (see The Lancet: Poultry Market Closure Effect On H7N9 Transmission), China has been unusually slow to react to this year's epidemic.
Hopefully this week's flurry of high profile meetings is an indication that China is intent on taking a more proactive stance in fighting this epidemic.