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Ministry denies human infection cover-up
(China Daily)
Updated: 2005-11-26 05:29

Allegations that bird flu has killed more people in China than officially reported were nothing but rumours, the Ministry of Health said on Friday.

A Japanese virologist, identified as Masato Tashiro by the London-based New Scientist, was quoted as saying on the magazine's website on Thursday that "300 people have died of H5N1 bird flu in China."

The website report said the virologist was recently in Hunan Province, site of a recent outbreak, where he worked with Chinese scientists on behalf of the World Health Organization (WHO).

But the ministry said what the virologist claimed in the report was "sheer rumour."

"The Ministry of Health has checked with the WHO and verified that there was not a single Japanese virologist among the specialists sent by the WHO to investigate the bird flu epidemic in Hunan," a ministry spokesman said.

The Japanese virologist's allegation that several hundred Chinese people died of bird flu was not based on facts, the ministry said in a statement made available to China Daily Friday night.

A WHO spokesperson said at a press conference in Geneva that China and the organization have co-operated well on bird flu, and China has not concealed any human infections, said the statement.

So far, the mainland has confirmed three cases of human infection of H5N1 bird flu virus, the statement said.

In addition to releasing the information to the public, the ministry has reported the confirmed cases to the WHO and also informed Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions and neighbouring countries, the ministry spokesman said.

He said health authorities have put people who had close contact with diseased or dead poultry under strict medical observation, and strengthened monitoring, reporting and treatment of fever and respiratory disease cases, so that any abnormal situation will be addressed promptly.

In a related development, 41 people, who had close contact with the latest human victim a 35-year-old woman farmer surnamed Xu in Anhui Province have shown no abnormal signs, and 13 of them, including Xu's family, have been released from medical observation, Xinhua said on Friday.

Xu developed fever and pneumonia-like symptoms on November 11 after contact with sick and dead poultry. She died on November 22. Another two confirmed human cases and one suspected case of H5N1 bird flu were reported on November 16.

(China Daily 11/26/2005 page1)

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