September 19, 2009 / 4:17 AM / 10 years ago

China warns of stability threat from H1N1

Passengers leave a train inside a station of the Subway Line Number 1 in Beijing July 22,2008. REUTERS/Jason Lee

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s public security ministry has warned police to be on guard against any threats to public order linked to the spread of the H1N1 strain of flu, including the spreading of rumors and price-gouging for drugs.

China has reported 11,722 cases of H1N1 flu, from which 7,231 people have recovered. No one has died in China, though there are six cases listed as serious by the Health Ministry.

But the stability-obsessed government is taking no chances in the world’s most populous nation, with its huge disparities between rich and poor and patchy health system.

“The Ministry of Public Security ... demands all security organs pay great attention to the possible effects on social stability from the virus and work hard at stopping the virus and maintaining stability,” it said on its website (www.mps.gov.cn).

“Strike hard against rumor mongers, the sale and production of fake, shoddy drugs and equipment, and the driving up of medicine prices,” it added in a statement issued late on Friday.

“Prevent the spread of the virus from disturbing normal social order and anything which may affect the smooth progress of celebrations for the 60th anniversary of the founding of new China.”

The capital Beijing is already under tightened security ahead of the October 1 anniversary of 60 years of Communist rule.

The health minister this month warned that China faced a grim situation in containing H1N1 as schools start up again and the number of cases rises.

The government plans to have enough flu vaccine to cover 5 percent of its 1.3 billion population by year-end.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard, editing by Ron Popeski

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