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More on China and SARS

From an article in the New York Times yesterday:

Speaking at the first news conference held by the Chinese government on the outbreak, which is thought to have started last November in Guangdong Province, Zhang Wenkang, China's minister for health, rejected a travel advisory issued the previous day by the World Health Organization, which is based in Geneva.

"It is safe for people to come to China to work, travel or attend conferences," Mr. Zhang said. "I'm not an agent for an airline trying to sell plane tickets to travel in China."

His assurances directly conflicted with the first disease-related travel advisory the World Health Organization has issued in its 55-year history. They also highlighted ongoing tensions with international medical investigators.

Beijing has hampered the free movement of medical investigators, released few statistics on the disease and has long insisted that the outbreak is "under control."

But officials of the agency insisted today that the disease, severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, is not under control.

"The numbers released by Chinese authorities yesterday were far higher than we expected," said Peter Cordingley, a spokesman for the World Health Organization. "It is imperative that we exercise all caution until we understand the situation in Guangdong."

The evidence of Chinese obstructionism -- leading to an accelerated spread of SARS and a resulting increase in the number of deaths -- seems to mount by the day.


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