China makes the news once more, and this time it looks like some public officials may wind up in a lot of trouble with the Chinese Ministry of Health if they don’t straighten up and fly right when it comes to telling the truth about the number of H1N1 cases and H1N1 related fatalities in their province.
BEIJING — China’s health ministry ordered accurate reporting of the spread of H1N1 influenza and threatened to punish officials who conceal cases of the virus after a prominent medical expert raised doubts about the true number of deaths reported to date.
In a statement posted late Thursday on the Ministry of Health’s Web site, spokesman Deng Haihua reiterated the need for local health departments to ensure timely reporting of H1N1 cases, and welcomed the media and the public to supervise and discuss the ministry’s work in fighting H1N1. Mr. Deng said that concealment, underreporting, or delays in transmitting information about the spread of the illness would be subject to punishment.
Earlier Thursday, state-run media in the southern province of Guangdong reported that Dr. Zhong Nanshan had voiced suspicions about the low number of reported fatalities from H1N1. Dr. Zhong, director of the Institute of Respiratory Diseases in Guangzhou, is best known for speaking out in 2003 against official reports that initially covered up the extent of the SARS epidemic.
“I basically don’t believe the current reported number of nationwide H1N1 deaths,” he was quoted as saying by the Guangzhou Daily. Dr. Zhong said he believed that some regions had concealed reports of H1N1 deaths to create the impression that they had been successful in their local prevention efforts, according to the report.
Since mainland China reported its first H1N1 death in early October, there have been only 53 deaths reported out of nearly 70,000 confirmed cases. According to the World Health Organization, the world-wide mortality rate for H1N1 has been four deaths per 1,000 cases of illness, a ratio that was repeated by China’s Ministry of Health when it warned of the threat posed by H1N1 a few weeks ago. ( source )
While they have not, to our knowledge, found any cases of H1N1 traveling from person to person via drinking water, that does not mean anyone should let their guard down when it comes to water quality testing or purification. Diligent use of available water testing and water disinfecting methods may not play an active role in stopping the spread of the H1N1 virus, that we know of right now, but it can help prevent a whole host of other illnesses.
One place where proper use of sanitizing and disinfecting REALLY matters… childcare facilities and daycare centers. Children know nothing about how germs and bacteria spread and often leave mucous, saliva or other bodily secretions on commonly touched surfaces such as toys, doorknobs, furniture, etc. They mean no harm and don’t do things like that intentionally, but it happens.
For that reason health officials suggest, and have mandated in some states, that operators of childcare and daycare centers have their staff check the chlorine levels in their sanitizing and disinfecting solutions daily. Think of it this way: What good would it do to wipe down a contaminated surface with a cleaning solution incapable of properly disinfecting or sanitizing?
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