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More Effective 'Drive Against Epidemics'
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China plans to penalize people who conceal, delay or lie about the outbreak of an animal-related disease.

The move is aimed at ensuring timely intervention and to strengthen cooperation with international organizations to fight an epidemic.

The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), the country's top legislature, yesterday began deliberating a draft amendment to the law on preventing animal-related epidemics aimed as lessening its social and economic impact.

The draft demands a prompt and transparent reporting system, saying that all government agencies, businesses and individuals must report to veterinary departments immediately after knowing about an outbreak of an animal-related disease.

Officials and government employees who fail to take prompt preventative steps, delay reporting or try to cover up such outbreaks will be penalized, according to the draft, which was tabled at the 27th session of the 10th NPC Standing Committee.

To ensure transparency and check panic from spreading, the draft asks the veterinary authorities to promptly inform government departments and the army of any severe outbreak of an animal-related disease. That will help the government to take immediate steps to check its spread.

Information on serious outbreaks should be sent in time to international organizations and trade partners such the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Health Organization and the World Organization for Animal Health, the draft says.

Also, governments above the county level should set up a surveillance network to monitor animal diseases, and veterinary departments at the central and provincial levels should issue early warnings against possible outbreaks based on thorough epidemiological study.

(China Daily April 25, 2007)

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