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Countermeasures against H7N9 enforced


The government on Monday enforced countermeasures against the H7N9 strain of bird flu, under which patients can be compelled to be hospitalized or to stop working for up to two years.

The action is being taken in the face of the rapid spread of the virus in China and at a time when many tourists return home from overseas at the end of Japan's Golden Week holidays from late April to early May, according to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry.

The new measures are based on the infectious disease law, under which the government can designate infectious diseases as likely to seriously affect human health so it can introduce emergency measures without going through ordinary procedures.

Bird flu caused by the H7N9 virus is designated as such a disease.

Under the steps, prefectural governors are authorized to recommend that patients or suspected patients be hospitalized and impose restrictions on work.

Those who engage in work which is highly likely to spread the infection, such as the hospitality or food industries, are ordered to stay away from work, and those who refuse such orders face punishment.