From: Grant Callaghan (email@example.com)
Date: Fri 11 Apr 2003 - 13:49:12 GMT
I read that the diease may have started around last November in China. Did
China undereact in the early stages of the epidemic?
There is some controversy on that subject. Here is a story from the South
China Morning Post that paints a pretty good picture of how that is playing
out. I would keep in mind that anything the government denies is probably
Friday, April 11, 2003
Mainland officials deny hiding the true figures
ALLEN T. CHENG in Beijing
Mainland health officials yesterday denied allegations that they have not
fully disclosed statistics on the full extent of the atypical pneumonia
crisis on the mainland.
Ma Xiaowei, the deputy minister of health, told a press conference official
statistics were accurate and reflected a full account of all hospitals on
the mainland, including military facilities.
Up until Wednesday, Mr Ma said there were a total of 1,290 infections on the
mainland, with 55 deaths, and 22 cases in Beijing with four deaths.
However, Mr Ma admitted that the mainland's vastness made it difficult to
define and pass on information about severe acute respiratory syndrome
"We have made a great effort in getting the word out on this disease and
over time, and through proper measures, we should do an even better job
reporting on Sars," said Mr Ma.
But Jiang Yanhong, 72, a retired director of general surgery at the People's
Liberation Army Hospital 301 in Beijing, accused officials of
under-reporting the total number of Sars cases as well as the total number
of deaths in Beijing.
Dr Jiang maintained that 10 people had died in Beijing from a total of 146
cases of infections in three major military hospitals alone - hospitals 301,
302 and 309.
Qi Xiaoqiu, another senior health ministry official, said there might be a
slight discrepancy between what mainland officials and the World Health
Organisation (WHO) considered as Sars. "Neither the [WHO] nor the Chinese
government have a final definition of this disease," the health official
Dr Jiang, who was not at the government briefing, said yesterday he was not
surprised that senior officials had denied his allegations but could not
completely refute them.
"The most important thing is I propose that the WHO tour team visit PLA
Hospital 309," said Dr Jiang, who keeps in close contact with many PLA
hospital colleagues, some of whom were appalled with the government's
under-reporting of this crisis. "Just by visiting 309, the WHO team would
find more cases than the entire official released statistics."
Jim Palmer, a spokesman for the WHO team visiting Beijing, said they might
ask senior leaders for a complete tour of Beijing area hospitals before they
leave, saying the international community was concerned about Beijing
Meanwhile, Beijing officials held a briefing for the foreign community
yesterday, attended by more than 200 embassy staff and business executives.
The officials announced they were setting up a 24-hour hotline in both
Putonghua and English for foreigners in the city as well as designating a
second hospital for foreigners who contract Sars.
Li Fan, the director of the China and the World Institute, a political
think-tank, said the recent crisis showed the government still had a long
way to reach global standards in terms of transparency.
"The government has been improving, but transparency has never been high
enough in this country," he said.
Meanwhile, Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao accused foreigners of
sensationalising the Sars issue.
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