The entire world is concerned about the possible mutation of bird flu into a human contagion. Everyone must be vigilant in monitoring outbreaks, for the spread of epidemics accelerates with each day, once an outbreak begins.
Yet China is finding old habits of secrecy difficult to break. The entire world is put at greater risk because the Communist mandarins refuse to behave responsibly, Our contributor Brian Schwarz reports from Beijing in his website China Challenges:
With global threat of bird flu growing with each passing day, China's determination to control the news media is only making the situation worse. Despite Beijing's promise of 'complete transparency' back in November, local media outlets were told not to cover bird flu cases, and to wait for a final and official statement from the government.
On Tuesday, the Hong Kong—based South China Morning Post reported ($link) that a suspected second human case of bird flu has emerged in nearby Guangzhou. They explain:
A source at the Guangzhou No1 People's Hospital said a 41—year—old woman, identified as Ms Li, was admitted on March 25 with unexplained pneumonia. The source said experts confirmed two days later that Ms Li had the H5N1 virus but the case had yet to be reported by official media. The woman lived in the Xihua area of Guangzhou's Yuexiu district.
Aphaluck Bhatiasevi, the World Health Organisation's China spokeswoman, said the WHO was informed of the case by the Ministry of Health on March 30.
"Right now, she is not a confirmed case of H5N1. She is considered to have pneumonia of an unknown cause," she said.
If officially confirmed, Ms Li would be the third human bird flu case in a major mainland city. In March, a female migrant worker died from the virus after buying live chickens at a Shanghai market.
And on February 2, another Guangzhou resident died from bird flu He was reportedly a frequent visitor to live poultry markets.
Sadly, when it comes to reporting serious health threats, China has consistently not been a responsible member of the global community. A few years ago it was SARS, today it is bird flu and tomorrow it maybe another mysterious health concern.
On April 3, AP reported some 400 students at the Henan University of Science and Technology in central China have come down with a mystery fever and the cause was under investigation.
With Scotland reporting its first case of bird flu a few days ago, it is probably only a matter of time before North America is hit with its own H5N1 outbreak.
Everyone has an interest in pressuring China to openly repudiate secrecy in reporting bird flu, and maintaining that pressure. We are all at risk. The totalitarian mindset must be broken.
Thomas Lifson 4 11 06