Skip to comments.WHO suspects hundreds more Beijing SARS deaths
Posted on 04/17/2003 7:09:04 PM PDT by CathyRyan
The World Health organization said the killer SARS epidemic is much worse in China than officials have acknowledged, after finding unreported cases at secretive military hospitals.
The WHO said the capital, Beijing, may have five times the official number of 40 deaths after visiting hospitals run by the military "which seems to have its own system of reporting," said Wolfgang Preiser of the WHO team. .
WHO Executive Director for Communicable Diseases David Heymann said the team estimated there were at least 50 SARS patients in one military hospital alone. .
"They (the WHO experts) also estimated there are between 100-200 probable cases in Beijing, more than has been reported, and they feel that there might even be up to 1,000 people who are under observation right now," Heymann told a briefing in Geneva, adding that many of those may not be SARS cases. .
The illness has already spread to a number of provinces, cities and regions in the world's most populous nation and Heymann feared the disease could spread further in coming weeks as millions of Chinese take a week-long holiday in early May. .
SARS has killed at least 65 people and infected 1,445 in mainland China -- nearly half of the world's cases -- since it first surfaced in southern Guangdong province in November. .
The virus that causes Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome has been carried by air travellers to 23 countries, infecting more than 3,400 people and killing about 160 worldwide. .
NEW HONG KONG OUTBREAK .
Nine residents of a Hong Kong housing estate have come down with SARS, sparking fears of a repeat of an outbreak that ravaged another high-rise apartment complex recently in the territory of seven million people. .
Singapore and Hong Kong, both hit hard by the virus, have begun checking airline passengers for fevers. .
Australian authorities yesterday reported three probable SARS cases -- three children visiting from Canada -- in what could be the country's first cases. But they said the children had recovered and the disease has not spread to family members. .
The WHO officially confirmed that a member of the coronavirus family, never before seen in humans, causes the flu-like SARS, which is contagious, sometimes fatal and has no known cure. .
The finding allows scientist to focus on diagnostic tests, treatment and new vaccines -- if needed. .
Experts were optimistic the disease could be controlled using existing measures, but warned the coronavirus family tended to mutate relatively quickly. .
In a further sign of urgency, U.S. scientists have asked more than a dozen American and European healthcare companies to help develop a SARS vaccine, a process that could take years. .
"You grow the virus, kill it, and there you go. You have a vaccine. But it would still take years to actually have the vaccine in the bottle and ready to distribute," said Dr Anthony Fauci, head of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, in an interview. .
U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson accused China of keeping information about SARS under wraps, thus letting the virus spread and claim more lives. .
"We've been very upset with the transparency of the Chinese government... We think lives could have been saved. We could have controlled it," he told Reuters in Rome. .
The criticism is bound to sting the Chinese leadership, which has taken steps to improve transparency after international condemnation for keeping quiet when SARS appeared. .
China said yesterday its economy grew 9.9 percent year-on-year in the first quarter -- the fastest pace in six years -- but SARS will cast a pall over future growth. .
Economists estimate that the epidemic has already caused at least US$30 billion in losses worldwide and will pose more of a threat to Asia's economic growth than the war on Iraq, through lower tourist earnings and reduced consumer spending.
People forget that China has something like 1.3 billion people, the vast majority of which live in the eastern half of the country. A 5% mortality rate could mean the death toll from SARS could reach as high as 65 million, way more than the number of people killed from the infamous Spanish flu outbreak of 1918.
But, that's impossible- Canada's healthcare system is superior to that of any other country, don't you know.
With socialist/liberal scum like the ChiComs it is entirely possible.
I wouldn't call this The Stand Lite - it may indeed turn into the full strength version should this thing mutate into a more deadly strain. Illicit bioweapons production can become more deadly to the offending nation than their intended targets. Not to gloat, but if that is the case I have no pity for them whatsoever.
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