Beijing Comes Under Fire for Stonewalling the World Health Organization over SARS Again !

Why is it that health officials in Beijing stupidly make the same mistakes again and again? Why do they persist in reporting they have the SARS virus under control, when it is apparent that such reports consist of little more than blatant lies and subtle evasions?

On June 3rd the question of official Chinese dissembling about SARS again reared its ugly head in world news reports. A Reuters report quoted WHO officials saying that they had come to mistrust Beijing's statistics showing a fall off in the number of patients being treated for this dangerous new virus. The report raised fundamental questions about Beijing's honesty about the success of their treatment programs. In the words of one United Nations official, * * * "We are concerned about how these cases are being counted. We do not know enough about where these numbers are coming from . . . China has a credibility problem." Quoting briefly from that report:

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday questioned a reported sharp fall in new SARS cases in China, the world's worst-hit country, saying it was "concerned" at how the counting was being done.

The United Nations health agency has warned the only way to beat the potentially-fatal respiratory disease, which has no simple treatment, is through rigorous identification of cases and patients' immediate isolation.

It fears that if the disease, which kills 15 percent of its victims, takes root in the vast Chinese countryside, it could become a permanent health threat around the globe where more than 8,300 people have already caught it.

On Tuesday, China announced just three new cases of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), two of them in Beijing. It has gone nine days in a row with fewer than 10 officially reported fresh infections. * * *

China has more than a credibility problem. They have a real problem telling the truth. Especially in telling the truth where lives are placed at risk in other countries.

It is now apparent that Beijing and the World Heath Organization seriously disagree over how China is compiling its healthcare statistics. "China, WHO seriously differ over SARS figures" screamed the June 4th headline in the The Hindu , regarded as India's "National Newspaper."

WHO officials appear to be very concerned about the basic adequacy of China's health care in the provinces outside Beijing and other major cities. There have been reports of riots and violence in remote regions from all over China when patients suspected of having the potentially fatal virus are locked away in abandoned school facilities or held in hospitals under armed guard. No one is able to say if patients locked away for such treatment are responding to treatment and are recovering, or have been simply locked away to die a slow and agonizing death.

Chinese military hospitals are also said to be secret houses of suffering and death for soldiers exposed to the virus. Many civilians were rushed secretly into quarantine in military hospitals and there is no information being released by Beijing about rates of cure or alleged "fatality rates."

But forced detention quarantine (i.e. hospital imprisonment) is just the tip of the iceberg.

When a two day meeting of Health Officials from China, Japan, South Korea and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations broke up the people who participated were also very critical of Beijing's attitude toward reporting progress in treatment of this "mystery disease."

The June 2nd edition of the AFP report from Beijing quoted as predicting that "China faces a disaster from the SARS virus." One health minister even openly suggested that something ominous was revealed by the statistics he had seen relating to the way in which the "virus spreads." One has to pause and reflect about the implications of that pronouncement, especially in light of the habitual subtlety most Chinese officials use to express themselves.

On June 3rd breaking news report by the Asia Times caught my eye because the headline was shouting "New SARS Disaster Looms in Beijing."

That report is amazing because of its great attention to detail. It is even more amazing because it almost reads almost like a criminal indictment of Beijing's effort of cover up a brand new SARS outbreak in a large residential complex known as the Beiyuan Gardens. What is truly shocking is that Chinese health officials had not quarantined the project. People were simply left on their own to stay indoors, or leave, or flee into the city or the countryside. It is unknown if any action has been taken as late as June 5th.

In view of the seriousness of the Asia Times report, I urge every reader of SARS reports to read it and ask "what is really going on in China."

Clearly Beijing is more worried about the economic impact of SARS on China, than the far greater risk of spreading the disease around the world. The reaction of officials in China has been typical of a rather closed and secretive society consumed totally with "saving face" at every opportunity.

This does not look the least bit promising for those of us who live outside China and who might happen to come into contact only rarely with a visitor from China. As summer is beginning to warm up the virus may be on the wane naturally. The virus appears to be spread by people who have no obvious symptoms at all, just a slight cough or the sniffles.

Get ready for a new and much more serious outbreak in the U.S. during the Fall and Winter of 2003.

I received an Email this morning informing me that a diligent poster on Free Republic has done charts proving that China has stopped reporting its "suspected" SARS cases. It is likely that WHO knows about Beijing's game playing.

When will the major news media pick up on this information?

Posted by Douglas Oliver on June 6, 2003 at 6:30 PM
Updated on June 7th at 9:06 AM)

SARS Virus Linked to Three Exotic Species Loved as Delicacies in China

On May 24th the New York Times reported that the SARS virus has been found in three wild animal species in China. All three species are considered exotic food delicacies. The three species are the Himalayan or masked palm civet, the racoon dog and the Chinese ferret badger. Quoting briefly from the NYT report:

* * * The civet is the Himalayan, or masked, palm civet. It is related to the mongoose, resembles a large weasel and is a threatened species. * * * The scientists also found the virus in the only raccoon dog, a dog resembling a raccoon, that was obtained. Antibodies in the blood from a Chinese ferret badger showed evidence that it had been infected with the SARS virus. * * *

But whether the species were captured in the wild or raised on farms is not known, W.H.O. said. Nor, the agency said, is it known whether humans transmitted the virus to animals or vice versa. * * *

"While it is more likely that these animals harbor the virus naturally, it is premature to say that the virus is found in nature" because the scientists have yet to determine the origin of the animals, said Dr. Klaus Stohr, the head of the W.H.O. scientific team investigating SARS.. * * *

Breaking News About the SARS Virus:

Internet Rumors are again resurfacing about SARS being a man-made virus. Thousands of people have been excited by an old news report that is again being circulated on the Web. On June 3rd a news report from Russia was posted on Free Republic a conservative political forum. No doubt we will hear new rumors about Chinese bio-weapons today.

Medical researchers in China have discovered the SARS virus in a group of people handling exotic animals. On May 25th, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that this news represented another strange factor in determining the source for the virus. Quoting briefly from the article:

* * * Researchers found SARS anti-bodies in five traders of wild animals, but none of them developed any symptoms of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), He Yaqing, deputy director of the Shenzhen Centre for Disease Control, told Saturday's Yangcheng Evening News.

The findings suggest that the form of the coronavirus that is suspected to have jumped from either the civet cat or the raccoon dog to humans was actually less lethal than the SARS coronavirus transmitted between humans that has gone on to kill at least 696 and infected more than 8000 worldwide. * * *

The Toronto Globe and Mail reported on May 24th that twenty new SARS cases have been identified. One case has been traced to a visitor who came from New York. Travel alerts have been announced again for Toronto, Canada.

Over 1,000 people are in quarantine in Toronto reported the Toronto Star on May 24th. There are 25 new suspected cases of SARS being treated at one hospital in the city..

Posted by Douglas Oliver on May 24, 2003 at 11:21 AM
(Updated on May 25th at 9:15 AM)

SARS Virus Baffles Experts: It Remains "Powerful Over Time"

On May 22nd ABC News reported that SARS remains powerful over time unlike more common forms of the flu virus. It is just as powerful in victims far down the "chain" as it was in the very first patient exposed to the virus. Thus far, doctors have tracked the virus through 15 levels of victims in the chain.

This new information shocked and baffled medical experts with the World Heath Organization this morning. Quoting briefly from the report:

SARS, however, does not appear to be weakening. WHO experts are still trying to determine the maximum number of people who have become infected in a single chain. * * *

"With an incubation period of about 10 days, that would be three chinks a month in the chain, so that's how we come up with the 15," he said. "The hypothesis still remains that this all came from one person, so it has passed through many, many people on it's way out through the world."

SARS was first reported five months ago in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong and scientists have traced some infections today back to one original case in the province.

More than 8,000 people have been infected worldwide, with a death toll of 684. In recent weeks, the island of Taiwan has been hardest-hit, with 20,000 people in quarantine and health experts talking about the need for more quarantine space.

In breaking news reports from Taiwan on May 22nd it was learned that there were 65 new cases of SARS reported in a single day on the island. The most recent report came from Channel News and also shocked medical experts around the world. Many had been assuming that the virus had been contained in Taiwan and might soon be brought under containment by quarantine efforts.

NewsPundit Comment:

I expect there will be new rumors circulating on the Internet in the next few days about SARS being a man-made virus. It does not appear to act like any other virus known to medical science. The admitted fatality rate for the virus has climbed from early estimates of less than 2% to the latest figures showing 15% to 20%. In the meantime, hospital staffs are being decimated by the disease and many treatment facilities have closed their doors to new patients.

Breaking News on May 23rd:

The SARS outbreak allegedly has been traced to the Chinese obsession for exotic food. The New Scientist reported the virus has been linked to Abyssinian civet cats. By some reports, they are rather nasty creatures. The Chinese are also said to treat these poor creatures rather badly.

Posted by Douglas Oliver on May 22, 2003 at 2:30 PM
(Updated on May 23rd at 7:26 AM)

President Bush Lands in S-3B Viking Aboard the Aircraft Carrier USS Abraham Lincoln: Democrats Badly Fumble in Clueless Attacks !

On May 1st President George W. Bush flew as the co-pilot of an S-3 Viking when it landed on the USS Abraham Lincoln. Read the AP report here on Yahoo News. Or you may read CNN's report by clicking this link.

To view more photos of President Bush on deck Click Here

Quoting from the CNN report:

It marked the first time a sitting president has arrived on the deck of an aircraft carrier by plane. The jet made what is known as a "tailhook" landing, with the plane, traveling about 150 mph, hooking onto the last of four steel wires across the flight deck and coming to a complete stop in less than 400 feet.

All hands on deck to salute to the Commander in Chief !

Breaking: Democrats Badly Fumble Attacks on Bush for Carrier Landing !

There is a new flap up going on about the Democrats and former President Clinton and his wife, Senator Hillary Clinton. On May 16th Susan Estrich published her column calling for Bill and Hillary to just disappear into the sunset. But apparently Bill and Hillary are still too powerful and editors all over the country have spiked the Estrich op-ed column. But you may still read it here. I agree with Ms. Estrich. Please, just crawl under a rock and hide.

On May 11th the Washington Post has a very pointed critique of the Democrats and how they have fumbled their attacks on President Bush. This is a "must read" column because it is so cool, calm and understated. Frankly, I expect to see Bush's carrier landing about once a week on television during the 2004 Presidential election.

The Daily reported on May 12th that the Mayor of London had taken up the attacks on President Bush in an outrageous harrang echoing the attacks raised by the Senate Democrats in the U.S. This is also a "must read" editorial coming from a well-known newspaper in London. It is also very funny and worth a careful reading.

For a very funny editorial comment about the negative attacks on President Bush's landing on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln read this column from the Orlando Sentinel dated May 11th. It seems certain key Democrats are livid with envy.

I read another column that was filled with rather nasty attacks on certain nameless and clueless Democrats who have attacked President Bush. I have decided not to link the report here. But I was laughing as I read it.

Posted by Douglas Oliver on May 1, 2003 at 1:10 PM
(Updated on May 12, 2003 at 11:15 AM)

Delaware State Bar Honors Iraqi Lawyer Involved in American POW Rescue

The State Bar of Delaware honored the Iraqi lawyer who was instrumental in the rescue of America's first female war hero Jessica Lynch. Mohammed Odeh al-Rehaief was honored at the Bar Association "Law Day" luncheon. Virginia attorney Tom Kalij accompanied al-Rehaief and his family to the luncheon. Mr. Kalij has been acting as the American host for the now famous Iraqi lawyer.

Although he was honored at the luncheon, al-Rehaief did not give a speech. Mr. Kalij reportedly said al-Rehaief asked him to tell the crowd, "May God bless America, and may God grant President Bush long life and the wisdom of Solomon."

On April 1, a U.S. special operations team acted on a tip from al-Rehaief and conducted a middle-of-the-night raid on a hospital in the Iraqi city of Nasiriyah. They found and rescued Pfc. Lynch, an Army supply clerk from Palestine, W.Va., who was injured and taken prisoner when the 507th Maintenance Company convoy was ambushed in March.

Al-Rehaief reportedly walked more than six miles at great personal risk to report that the American soldier was being beaten in the hospital. He gave U.S. troops detailed information about the hospital, its layout and drew a map to help U.S. forces planning the rescue.

I quote briefly from a report filed on May 9th by the Wilmington, Delaware News Journal about the award:

"Mohammed, what you did was extraordinary, and America is grateful," said Claire M. DeMatteis, a member of the bar's executive committee. She and Patricia C. Hannigan, the association president, presented al-Rehaief with a silver tray, a plaque, a $1,000 check and a resolution recognizing his actions and making him a lifetime honorary member of the state bar.

Homeland Security officials reported last month that the al-Rehaief family has been granted asylum in the United States. The family was brought to the U.S. from a refugee camp in Iraq in early April.

Americans owe a deep debt of gratitude to this brave Iraqi lawyer who acted at great personal risk to help save Pfc. Jessica Lynch.

Posted by Douglas Oliver on May 9, 2003 at 5:45 AM