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Policy Reactions to the Swine Flu in Japan

May 21, 2009

With the threat of the Swine Flu unabated in Japan, government agencies are going to great lengths to come up with forward-thinking policies to prevent an overall pandemic. Both on a local and national level Japan is rethinking its quarantine and treatment practices. Each newspaper reported a different policy being taken by taken by each level of government.

Asahi “The National Response: Split by Region” The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare announced its policy of a splitting the country by region if the flu is to spread further. According to the Ministry this policy would give them “room to maneuver” in their policy reactions per region. The regions suggested would be “Confirmed Region”, “Infected Region”, and “Unborn Region”. The unborn region is a region where no cases of the flu have yet been reported. The confirmed region is a region where cases of the flu have been reported, but only one by one, where the spread from person to person within that area has not yet occurred. The Infected Region is a region where it’s spreading from person to person. A statement from a ministry official said “we’re trying to revamp our policies this week as much as possible.”

Nikkei “New Policy for Small Hospitals” Within infected regions such as Kobe City, the Japanese government is looking into a policy that will prevent the spread of the flu from patient to patient in hospitals. Patients instead of being screened in the hospital are being screened in their cars. The issue that keeps is arising is the small and narrow treatment rooms within the hospitals. As one hospital employee laments, “We do not yet have a solution to this problem.”

Yomiuri “The Solution to the Threat Could Lie in History” The Yomiuri, instead of focusing on current government responses, reported on the possibility of a cure to the flu lying in history. Reporting on a news broadcast by the American CDC, they claimed that people born before 1957 might hold immunity for the disease. The H1N1 virus was around from 1918 to 1957, and one scientist at the CDC feels that people who have experienced this strand already could hold immunity to the current strand. At least there’s hope, according to the Yomiuri.

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