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Health officials refute charge of flu-death cover-up

By Wang Zhenghua in Shanghai | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2013-03-08 21:52

Medical authorities and a hospital in Shanghai have refuted a rumor that several people have died of flu and that the hospital withheld the information, the Shanghai Evening Post reported on March 8.

A netizen said in a post on a micro blog on March 7 evening that several people died of "unidentified illnesses" at Shanghai's No 5 People's Hospital, and urged the hospital to reveal the truth about the deaths.

Initial diagnoses found these deaths were linked to flu and respiratory failures, the web user said, who later deleted the post and changed the account name of the micro blog without explanation, the newspaper reported.

The hospital and Shanghai Municipal Health Bureau said the hospital did not receive a family of four that had suddenly became ill, nor a fifth such case, as claimed in the post.

The hospital said it did receive three people from one family, aged at 55, 69 and 87, between Feb 14 and Feb 24. But the results, generated after a consultation among medical professionals and confirmed by a laboratory of the health authority, showed that the three were infected with pneumonia. SARS, bird flu and the H1N1 virus were ruled out as causes of the illnesses.

Despite untiring medical efforts, two of the patients, the 55-year-old and the 87-year-old, died from a combination of their serious lung infections and their previous illnesses, the hospital said. The 69-year-old patient is still being treated and is in stable condition.

Tests showed that other pneumonia cases at the hospital have nothing to do with these cases, and the three people's family members and doctors, who had close contact with them, did not report any discomfort.

The hospital also gave a timely report of the case to a district-level disease prevention and control center on Feb 26, the newspaper said.

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