China denies 2003 AI case cover up
China says it did not cover up a 2003 human death from bird flu which
was only confirmed this week, but has admitted that there are shortcomings in
the country's disease reporting.
Vice Health Minister Jiang Zuojun said it was initially believed that the man
had SARS, as there was an outbreak of SARS at the time.
"This case had similar symptoms to SARS but clinical tests based on SARS
standards determined it was not a SARS case," Vice Health Minister Jiang Zuojun
"So scientific researchers were trying to determine what type of disease it
was. As it was a sudden and new infectious disease, they had not completely
diagnosed it," Jiang told a news conference.
"It took time for scientific researchers to study the disease," Jiang
Jiang added that at the time, scientific institutions were not legally
required to report infectious diseases and that only after 2004 was bird
flu made a disease that legally must be reported.
"This problem exposes that our scientific research institutions in the future
should strengthen communication and contacts with our disease prevention
organisations," Jiang said.
Jiang declined to say whether it was possible that bird flu had been around
in mainland China even earlier than 2003, and said that the ministry had no
plans to carry out an investigation into possible cases before 2003.
"We should say the 2003 case is the first case. We have no evidence of cases
before 2003," Jiang said.
Experts in Hong Kong have long suspected that bird flu had been present in
mainland China for a long time, but had been dormant.
See the original
news item on the suspected 2003 human bird flu case in China.
See the news
update item about the confirmation of the 2003 human bird flu case in China.
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