Magazine claim China covering-up bird flu groundless
( 2004-02-02 13:42) (chinadaily.com.cn by Song Tong)
While the World Health Organization and experts involved make researches on how the bird flu has spread so quickly, Britain's New Scientist published a report saying China was the source of the virus, probably one year ago but China covered it up. The Chinese wondered: How could the weekly magazine jump to that conclusion and what's its motive in saying so?
Scientific attitudes towards every unknown, complicated question should be: Scientific researches and probes be made before drawing a conclusion.
Facing allegations it was the source of the Asia-wide bird flu outbreak, China's Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue said last Thursday that such an allegation is "totally inaccurate, groundless and irresponsible, and moreover doesn't respect science."
The WHO's Beijing-based spokesman Roy Wadia held that it was too early to confirm China as the origin of the disease which could have had several possible sources.
Therefore, Zhang noted that "all of us could see this epidemic with a scientific attitude." A scientific magazine could be no exception.
Why do we consider the New Scientist not respecting science in this regard?
Firstly, the bird flu broke out first in 1878 in Italy. Mankind has been struggling against the disease for over a century; the sources and infection channels followed epidemiological patterns and required scientific study to understand.
Secondly, as a highly contagious fowl disease, the Avian influenza spreads beyond boundaries. The epidemic has hit ten countries and regions in Asia where similar farming practices are adopted. It is virtually impossible to say where this outbreak originated.
Thirdly, China is not the first country to be hit by the virus this time.
China discovered the first suspected case on January 23, 2004 in Long'an County, southern Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region bordering Viet Nam, the case was confirmed four days later. But then, the epidemic had already broken out in several Asian countries and regions.
Fourthly, no authoritative research organizations have had the proof that the epidemic began in China and made such an announcement.
The report, that "China was hit by the bird flu as early as one year ago and the Government covered it up," is groundless and aiming at bespattering China.
The Chinese Government has adopted a manner of transparency and disclosure of information about epidemics by drawing SARS lesson last year. Up to now, the government discloses to the public and WHO the information on the epidemic everyday via domestic and international medias. There is no reason that the government covers up the bird flu outbreak.
The bird flu is major public health issue which is closely related to the health and happiness of people all over the world. The Chinese Government has attached great importance to the issue since the discovery and confirmation of the first case.
The prevention and control of the spread of the virus is a major question the international community is confronted with. With more bird flu reports cropping up, China has moved quickly in joint efforts with the world to step up measures to contain the spread of the virus.
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