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  Xinhua Insight: China beefs up preventions against Ebola  

  

 

21 (Xinhua) -- As intense media coverage on the US Ebola cases continues, China is getting a case of the jitters over the deadly virus as online rumors spread unnecessary fear.

  BEIJING, Oct. 21 (Xinhua) -- As intense media coverage on the US Ebola cases continues, China is getting a case of the jitters over the deadly virus as online rumors spread unnecessary fear.

  Over the past weekend, a widely-circulated rumor on social media said an Ebola infection was confirmed in the eastern Chinese city of Ningbo.

  The city's public health bureau refuted the rumor on Monday, saying a Nigerian man kept under observation since Thursday has tested negative for the deadly virus and his body temperature returned to normal on Friday.

  So far, no Ebola cases are reported in China. But for people who experienced the deadly SARS and H7N9 bird flu outbreaks, nervousness is regarded as a natural reaction.

  HEIGHTENED RISK

  China's National Health and Family Planning Commission has put out an alert on the heightened risk of imported cases, given the large number of people travelling across the borders.

  It has issued a notice calling for all health and disease control authorities and medical institutions to make self check-ups. They hope to see if sufficient precautions and prevention measures have been put in place by the end of the month.

  The commission also has ordered precautionary measures against people who come from the virus-plagued regions or had contact with Ebola patients or people with high fevers from the regions.

  In Guangdong, the forefront of the battlefield to keep the virus out of the country, the prevention efforts are under way. Local health authorities have designated medical institutions to screen and treat potential cases.

  The industrial southern province faces a high risk of imported cases and faces enormous disease prevention challenges, the provincial entry-exit inspection and quarantine bureau has warned.

  With booming economic ties with Africa, Guangzhou, the provincial capital of Guangdong, receives over 160 non-stop flights from Africa per month. Meanwhile, many Africans enter the province after flight transfers at other neighboring overseas airports.

  The Canton Fair, China's largest trade fair, held in Guangzhou, mirrors the enormous challenge facing Guangdong as it hosts 200,000 overseas buyers, with up to 20,000 from Africa.

  Local health authorities have set up temperature-testing facilities at the entrances to the exhibition centers to ensure any suspected cases are spotted as soon as possible.

  "(Ebola) is a nightmare for the world," said James Mwangi, a buyer from Kenya. "I think (Chinese border police) should take more precautions and maybe inspect every person just to ensure that nobody comes in with the disease."

  In its latest update, the World Health Organization (WHO) said seven countries have reported over 9,200 confirmed, probable and suspected cases. Of those, more than 4,500 have died.

  Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, among the least wealthy nations in West Africa where the disease is prevalent, are the worst-hit.

  Currently, the Ebola epidemic has become a prominent challenge for the international community as it still has no effective treatment and vaccines are still under first-stage clinical trials. China has sent batches of supplies and medical staff to help contain the outbreak in western Africa.

  NO NEED FOR PANIC

  With a grave challenge in controlling the notoriously contagious virus, Chinese disease control experts admit there is a risk of isolated imported cases. But the risk of an Ebola outbreak nationwide is low since China has extensive experience containing public health emergencies.

  Beginning with the SARS outbreak in 2003, Chinese authorities, medical institutions and the general public have all greatly raised awareness in how to guard against deadly infectious diseases, said He Jianfeng, chief expert with the Guangdong provincial center for disease control and prevention.

  "The possibility of a large-scale Ebola outbreak in China is almost zero," said He.

  Li Lanjuan, a disease control expert for the National Health and Family Planning Commission, said health authorities should popularize basic knowledge of the virus and its prevention measures.

  He said they should be transparent in handling information in a bid to avoid unnecessary public panic.

  The WHO has already taken similar measures, reiterating that the risk of transmission of Ebola during air travel remains low as it is not an airborne virus. It can only be transmitted by direct contact with the body fluids of a person who is sick with the disease.

  China has no infection sources so there can only be imported cases, said Li, an academician with the Chinese Academy of Engineering, urging authorities to beef up border inspections and launch compulsory quarantines for people with high fevers from disease-plagued regions.

  "With stringent control measures, the isolated imported cases could be contained and further infections could be avoided," said Li, also a doctor with the First Affiliated Hospital of Zhejiang University.

  "Currently, there is no need for panic in China," she said.

 

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