China Begins to Acknowledge Scope of SARS Infection
27 Mar 2003, 21:02 UTC
Months after a severe form of
first appeared in southern China, officials in Beijing are just
now beginning to admit how far the
has spread. News media in the country have been quiet about
Health experts say Chinese officials tried to hide the
of the disease for months, because health
are often considered politically
and not publicly released.
In recent weeks, world health officials have increasingly pressed
China to improve
and statistical reporting on what is called Severe Acute Respiratory
Syndrome or SARS. Beijing began providing data on SARS to the
World Health Organization about two weeks ago. On Thursday,
Kong Quan said China is firmly controlling the spread of SARS.
Mr. Kong says that although the number of reported cases has
increased, there have been no new cases found since March 11.
disease first appeared in southern China late last year. Chinese
news media, however, have
reports on the disease. Some local Beijing newspapers are carrying
brief reports on back pages. But state-run television has not
mentioned the disease. On Wednesday, officials admitted there
had been a total of 792 SARS cases in China and 34 deaths, as
of the end of February. Medical personnel say the number of
new cases dropped dramatically this month.
There have been almost 1,400 SARS cases worldwide, including
more than 50 deaths. Victims of the disease suffer flu-like
that often progress to severe pneumonia. In China, most cases
were found in the south, although a handful have been found
in Beijing and in Shanxi, an inland
Citing a report from the Beijing health
, Mr. Kong says victims of the eight cases in the capital were
either from Hong Kong or from Shanxi. The ministry of health
has not released more recent data and World Health
officials in Beijing say they have not been given statistics
concerning the disease in other provinces,
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