China’s annual “Golden Week” holiday, which started Monday, is a time for millions of Chinese to vacation in neighboring countries, boosting commercial activity and person-to-person contact. But with the rise in China of a new bird flu called H7N9, which has killed 23 people and infected over 120 more, and with one case now confirmed outside the Chinese mainland, Asian countries are also bracing for the potential outbreak of a highly lethal virus. Global health depends on China being as forthcoming with information as possible, so that other nations can take appropriate precautions.
Since the SARS outbreak a decade ago, China has learned that there is little benefit to keeping a virus hidden from international health officials and the public. By all accounts, including that of the World Health Organization, the Chinese government and state media have been more open about the spread and genetic makeup of the disease, encouraging citizens to share information. The Chinese government has also taken some preventative measures, going so far as to close down poultry markets.