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Sunday, September 5, 2010

Cholera outbreak 'covered up' in China

An AFP report hosted by Google, excerpt :

" BEIJING : Authorities in eastern China covered up an outbreak of cholera for 12 days out of fears that publicising the often fatal disease would shock the local population, state press said Sunday.

According to the website of the Anhui province health department, 38 people have contracted cholera since August 16 and the outbreak was under preliminary control with the numbers of cases diminishing.

Five patients remain hospitalised, it said.

Cholera causes serious diarrhoea and vomiting, leading to dehydration, and can be fatal if not treated quickly. It normally breaks out in impoverished regions with poor sanitation.

Although health authorities have not reported any deaths, Internet chatrooms were abuzz with rumours that several people have died from the disease.

At the same time state media criticised the government for covering up the epidemic and refusing to alert the local population.

"On August 16, the Anhui centre for disease control had confirmed the outbreak of cholera, but it was not until August 28 that it was publicised," the Beijing News said in an editorial.

"The government covered up the outbreak for 12 days."

The paper quoted Wang Jianjun, the vice director of the Anhui centre for disease control as saying that local officials were powerless to publicise disease outbreaks and had to wait for approval from more senior officials."

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