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China denies covering up SARS spread
Anil K Jospeh in Beijing | April 01, 2003 18:48 IST
China, the worst-affected by the deadly outbreak of atypical pneumonia, on Tuesday refuted international criticism of trying to cover up the spread of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, which has so far claimed over 62 lives world-wide.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said concerned departments are working on the latest data, which would be released soon.
Liu also said business visitors and tourists to China did not face any epidemic threat since it has been contained effectively in the affected provinces Beijing, Shanxi and Guangdong provinces.
He criticised anti-China comments in the Western media and warned against attempts to sully the communist nation's image.
When questioned about the delay in publishing the latest data concerning the spread of SARS, he merely said that concerned government departments were doing their jobs in a systematic and scientific way.
China has told the World Health Organisation that as of February 28, there were a total of 806 cases of SARS. While 31 people died in the southern province of Guangdong, three others died in Beijing.
Meanwhile, the World Economic Forum said it has postponed until fall a Beijing meeting of business and government leaders because of concerns about SARS. The meeting was set for April 14-15.
In Hong Kong, one more person died of SARS, taking the total number of deaths in the special administrative region to 16 since March 12. The Hong Kong health department said the victim was an 83-year-old man.
The city has also reported 75 new patients of SARS till 1300 hrs [1130 IST] on Tuesday, taking the cumulative total to 601.
At the same time, Hong Kong's Director of Health Dr Margaret Chan denied reports that Hong Kong may be declared as an 'infected area'.
"I would like to take this opportunity to inform the people of Hong Kong categorically that we have no plan and there is no need for us to declare Hong Kong as an infected area," Chan said.
"Our airport and all our external transport with other parts of the world will continue as usual. Everything is running as scheduled and normally," Chan said.
More reports from China