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Still More on China and SARS

Also from the Times, also from yesterday, another article on Chinese stonewalling on SARS:

In early March, when a new mystery illness started hopscotching around the globe, Chinese health officials looked on in silence, as if to say, "This has nothing to do with us."

At that point, China was already four months into an outbreak that officials later acknowledged was the same disease, severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS. Yet they insisted that the situation was fully under control, shared none of their data and declined to join international investigations.

Only in the face of intense international pressure are the Chinese now releasing valuable information to scientists from the World Health Organization, who were allowed in the country just a few weeks ago.

This week, the Chinese government announced its count of new SARS cases for March, bringing China's caseload to 1,190, with 46 deaths -- the highest figures for any nation. It also announced that the W.H.O. team had permission to travel to the southern city of Guangzhou, the epicenter and origin of the epidemic...

By January, Chinese doctors in Guangdong Province already understood a lot about the disease's spread and how to control outbreaks. If three months ago, they had shared that experience or allowed international experts in to aggressively look for the germ responsible, would so many be dying from Canada to Vietnam today?

How much plainer can the question be asked?


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