The World Health Organization's China representative says there are no confirmed cases of swine flu in China.  He spoke to reporters in Beijing, Tuesday, as Chinese authorities deal with an unspecified number of suspected cases.

Ready to face flu outbreak

WHO China representative Hans Troedsson says he had discussions with the Ministry of Health, Tuesday, and thinks China is, "well-prepared."   He says he hopes Beijing has learned lessons from recent outbreaks of respiratory illnesses, SARS and avian flu.           

"I think what is important is a transparency and openness, not only with the WHO, but also with the public.  It is very important that the public, the people, the common people, understand the situation," he said.

No confirmed cases

Troedsson says there are no confirmed cases of swine flu in China or even what the WHO describes as probable cases.  At the same time, he says there are suspected cases in China, including at a school in Shaanxi province that was closed as authorities test the students.

"There have been a few events, as you mentioned, like the school in Shaanxi.  But we didn't discuss the exact numbers," he said.

He estimates China, with a population of more than 1.3 billion people, likely has tens of millions of them, each day, who have some sort of respiratory illness.  He says, under those circumstances, he is encouraged to see that there are some suspected cases the Chinese government is taking more seriously.

"If you don't have any suspected cases, I would say that your surveillance system might not work that well.  So, it's actually a good indication that they have a surveillance system that works," he said.

Did swine flu originate in China?

Troedsson rejected questions about whether the swine flu originated in China, saying researchers do not know yet where it came from because the illness is a combination of several different flu strains.

He says a Chinese government decision to ban pork and pork products from Mexico and from several U.S. states will not have any effect on swine flu transmission, because the virus is spread from human-to-human through things like sneezing.