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Health Problems In Beijing Could Hurt Olympics

May 6, 2008

Child virus fears spread to China’s capital

BEIJING (Reuters) – Fears of a virus that has killed at least 26 children in China gripped parents in Beijing on Tuesday amid a spreading outbreak of hand, foot and mouth disease.

The health scare prompted the Foreign Ministry to seek to assure the country it was doing its best to contain the outbreak.

“The Chinese government is paying great attention to the virus and related departments are taking effective measures to stop it from spreading,” ministry spokesman Qin Gang told a news conference.

Hand, foot and mouth is a common illness in children and infants caused by a family of viruses called enteroviruses and outbreaks regularly occur in China.

But the current outbreak has led to fatalities mostly when linked with enterovirus 71 (EV71), which can cause a severe form of the disease that can lead to high fever, paralysis and viral meningitis.

Some 11,905 cases of hand, foot and mouth have been reported in China this year, the official Xinhua news agency said. EV71 has caused 26 deaths, largely in Fuyang, a city in China’s eastern province of Anhui. At least two deaths were in the southern province of Guangdong.

All of the deaths in Fuyang were of children under six years old and most were under two.

Parents in Beijing, host city of the 2008 Olympics that has not reported any deaths from EV71, were also on the alert.

The World Health Organisation this week ruled out the virus as a threat to the Olympics but has cautioned that the virus, which spreads mostly through contact with infected blisters or feces, could be yet to peak.

China, which initially covered up the SARS epidemic in 2003, has denied a cover-up this time round and ordered authorities to aggressively tackle hand, foot and mouth.

An editorial in Monday’s China Daily blamed the crisis in Fuyang on a “delayed reaction” by the local government.

Thousands of Chinese children have been infected by a form of hand, foot and mouth disease, which may have claimed 26 lives, the government has said.

What is hand, foot, and mouth disease?

China punishes doctors, officials for misdeeds in foot-hand-mouth epidemic

HEFEI, May 5 (Xinhua) — Authorities in east China’s Anhui province have ordered punishment for 10 doctors and officials for their misdeeds in handling the hand-foot-mouth disease that has caused 22 deaths in the province, official sources said on Monday.

China’s hand-foot-mouth cases rise to 11,905

All this adds up to China doing everything in its power to suppress negative news that might threaten their Olympics. The cost of media spin, suppression of facts. As millions of Chinese go about their daily lives and dream of tourist dollars, pollution and disease are incidental issues that must not be emphasized. China’s government cannot detain or jail viruses, they must be very concerned that word of these illnesses will leak. The Olympics at any cost must be their goal. Look at the beautiful image they project to world media. Threats of disease and toxic contamination is incidental to the larger goal of impressing the world. Image over substance is disinformation spread by propaganda! Propaganda is a form of virus, also.

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