China Declares "Atypical Pneumonia" a Level One Communicable Disease; Many Health Workers in Beijing Have Been Infected, and Many Schools Have Suspended Classes
April 17, 2003
Many health care workers in Beijing have been infected with SARS. Officials have declared "Atypical Pneumonia" a level one communicable disease, commonly known as an epidemic. Overseas media have strongly criticized officials of the Chinese communist government for concealing the status of the epidemic, and for the heavy cost to the world economy and loss of human lives.
Large Numbers of Health Care Workers Infected
On April 16, two large hospitals, Beijing Police Hospital and Sino-Japan Friendship Hospital, implemented quarantine measures.
Recently a patient was infected with SARS, which precipitated a heart attack. He was sent to the hospital for emergency treatment, but to no avail. However almost all the staff involved in the treatment became infected. The news has spread all over Beijing, and with a large number of health care workers infected, people in Beijing are afraid to go to the hospital.
It was reported that the reason large number of health care workers in Beijing were infected was because they failed to adopt preventive measures when resuscitating acute patients with emergency medical conditions precipitated by infections with SARS. An employee at Beijing Guangda Bank came down with SARS because her husband, a doctor, was infected with SARS at the hospital earlier.
A Staff Member in Beijing University Infected With SARS; Three Colleges Suspend Classes
According to a report by Zhou Huiying from the Central News Agency on April 16, Li Mei, a staff member in the School of Economics in Beijing University was infected with SARS. Beijing University officials held an emergency meeting to deal with this matter. In addition, the School of Economics suspended classes for a week starting the day before. Guanghua College of Management and the College of International Relations were to start today. It is estimated that classes would be suspended until early May.
Several days earlier, the First Elementary School, the Third Elementary School of Zhongguancun, Haidian District in Beijing, and a school in Sanlitun had suspended classes when they learned of the epidemic.
Another report from Central News Agency on April 16, 2003 disclosed that authoritative sources in Beijing had revealed that a journalist from CCTV in Mainland China was diagnosed with SARS the day before, and was already in isolation. This is the first journalist to be infected with SARS in Beijing. Hong Kong Wenhui News Paper quoted news from Beijing that the journalist recently had an appendectomy in a hospital in Beijing. The third day after he was discharged from the hospital he developed a fever and a dry cough and was diagnosed by the hospital to have SARS.
According to another report, the eminent intellectual, Li Shenzhi, former vice president of China Social Science Institute, developed a fever after contracting pneumonia, and is being hospitalized in Beijing's Xiehe Hospital. The hospital has issued notice that his condition is critical. His relatives in America are on their way to Beijing.
America Allows Diplomats in China to Evacuate
Russia has informed its citizens not to go to China or Southeast Asian countries infected with SARS, and stipulated that the staff in the embassy disinfect their hands consistent with medical standards after handling each "Chinese passport."
Before that, according to the report from Voice of America on April 4, the US government has decided to expand the voluntary evacuation plan from consulates in Hong Kong and Guangdong Province to all the four consulates in China. All the non-essential US diplomats in China and their families can elect to go back to the US. The government will pay for all the expenses.
In addition, the Israeli Foreign Ministry has decided to recall Israeli diplomats and their families in China, Hong Kong and Vietnam to guard against being infected with atypical pneumonia.
At the same time, foreign institutions and groups are all canceling or postponing their visits to China.
Some Businesses in Beijing Go on Extended Vacation; Frustrations Abound
At present, office buildings in Beijing are being disinfected daily. Commercial activities are quiet. Some businesses simply take long vacations. Many people stay at home every day and dare not go out.
Many people have been infected. The hospitals are under quarantine. Every day many more people become infected. People are uneasy and frustrated. Many people in Beijing said: "There is nothing you can do. Now we just have to see who has strong enough resistance to the disease to overcome it."
The situation of SARS in Hong Kong gradually spread to Beijing. One teacher in Zhongguancun in Beijing said: "SARS was found in Hong Kong long before Beijing. But the situation is getting worse. It is harder to say what would happen in Beijing." Some hospitals in Beijing have started to refuse SARS patients, with the reason that "there is nothing set up in the hospital to prevent the contagion." Notwithstanding patients complaints, the medical personnel on duty are fearful of the infection and turn their backs on the dying patients.
WHO Says Chinese Government Did Not Report All the SARS Cases
On Wednesday, April 16 the WHO group investigating SARS in China said during the news conference in Beijing that there were major discrepancies between the number of deaths and SARS cases reported by the Chinese officials and the actual number. The Chinese officials did not report truthfully all the affected cases.
The media reports in the past several weeks say that the Chinese government tried to cover up the spread of the epidemic in order to avoid panic. Overseas media continue to strongly criticize Beijing's attempts to conceal the status of the epidemic, resulting in the rapid spread of the virus around the world. They place the blame on the lies by the Chinese officials for the heavy cost to the world economy and loss of human lives, and the epidemic getting out of control.
At present the number of deaths due to SARS in Hong Kong has climbed to 61, not far from the number of 65 in Mainland China. Compared with the rest of the world, both Hong Kong and China are the most seriously affected areas. Hong Kong Health Ministry published on April 15 that another 5 people had died of SARS, putting the total to 61. As the Chinese government conceals the true situation, the actual number of deaths in China remains unclear.
Differences Among the High Ranking Officials in Chinese Communist Government Led to the Cover up of the True Status of SARS?
It is reported that with regard to the issue of making public the true status of the SARS epidemic, there are serious differences among the high ranking officials in Beijing. Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao wanted to report the true situation, but they were met with enormous resistance from Jiang's group. Jiang Zemin considered that publishing the true situation of SARS would aggravate the so-called "anti-Chinese" attitude of the West, and therefore classified SARS situation as "top secret." For four months the publication of SARS to the outside world all came from the media group controlled by Jiang Zemin; the government could not intervene.