Published October 08, 2009
Parents waiting to pick up their children from Beijing's Sanlitun Primary School are greeted by a new sign. "If your child has any kind of a temperature don't bring them to school tomorrow. Keep them at home."
Parent Xuan Yen said that her daughter's treatment at school seems more like the treatment she would get at a hospital. "Every day the school takes my daughter's temperature twice a day and administers Chinese herbal medicine to keep the H1N1 virus away."
But the precautions are not just in the schools. China's population of 1.3 billion people makes up one-fifth of the world's population, and tens of millions of Chinese could get H1N1. So China is acting quickly to prevent such a disaster by releasing the world's first vaccine.
After a relatively unremarkable summer, China saw a spike of 1,600 cases in just three days last week. Sixty percent of China's cases were confirmed only in the last three weeks.
The country's health minister Chen Zhu, unusually silent about the threat, suddenly stated the obvious after 14,000 cases of H1N1 cases were confirmed nationally.
On Tuesday, the Health Ministry reported the country's first H1N1 death.
"It's the autumn season and all experts, ours and the World Health Organization's, think this will be a peak time for H1N1.
"School has started, lots of people will gather together, and this will be a huge contributor to the spread."
The Chinese were the first to release an H1N1 vaccine, even ahead of the United States.
Among the first to receive it — 100,000 students who took part in China's National Day celebrations last week.
No independent organization has declared the Chinese vaccine safe, but the vaccine maker has marketed it to the world as of a "quality and standard not just to suit the Chinese but also the international level."
Across the board, the Chinese government is urging its people to be vigilant. Chinese airports are on high alert — arriving travelers have their temperatures scanned as airport workers wear masks at all times.
And a bizarre in-flight video advises passengers to be vigilant, both during and after their trip. The message states, "H1N1 is dangerous. Eat soup. And open your windows at home, not on the plane, and keep circulating fresh air to reduce germs."
At a Shanghai park, dentists running a free clinic take no chances — patients are kept at a distance across the table.
Over the summer, thousands of Americans were quarantined after arriving to China simply because someone on board their plane had a slightly elevated temperature. In the last month the American Embassy says that has tapered off, because the Chinese realize the threat is no longer from the outside — it's inside the country.
Cases of H1N1 have been diagnosed in every province.