Hong Kong — On the evening of January 9, the Chinese Ministry of Health confirmed that a boy from Hunan Province, China, was infected with the bird flu virus H5N1. This news comes amid reports of delays by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in reporting the actual situation of the epidemic that have caused alarm in Hong Kong. Meanwhile, a leading Hong Kong scientist has recanted an earlier statement that the CCP has been concealing the bird flu epidemic in China.
The patient is a six-year-old boy in Guiyang County, Hunan Province. Before the boy became ill, some poultry in the boy's home had already died of the illness. According to a report, when the boy went to a clinic on December 24, he had symptoms of fever and respiratory infection. There has been no previous outbreak of bird flu in Guiyang County.
Different Standards Said To Cause Delays
An expert in chemical analysis from the Hong Kong Health Department, Mr. Lin Weiling, traveled to Beijing last month and subsequently gave an interview to the “Hong Kong Economic Times.” He claimed that China delays in reporting bird flu cases because China's standard for a definite diagnosis is “much stricter” than the World Health Organization's (WHO), so that a confirmed diagnosis can take as much as three to four weeks. Furthermore, a case of illness diagnosed in Hong Kong may not be regarded as such in mainland China.
The WHO declares a definite diagnosis when the rapid PCR (Polmyerase Chain Reaction) test of two separate laboratories shows a positive bird flu virus response in the patient. But the CCP, in addition, requires a positive response from a virus isolation, or antibody test, a requirement that delays the diagnosis from three to up to 14 days.
Yesterday, in the Hong Kong Legislative Council's Health Services Committee meeting, many Members expressed their concern that the delay due to the differing standards may harm Hong Kong residents. The Committee therefore requested that suspected cases of illness be included in the notification.
Expert Who Revealed CCP's Cover-up Goes Silent
In addition to the government's own experts, the Health Services Committee invited several other medical experts and clinical physicians to attend. An associate professor from Hong Kong University's Department of Microbiology, Dr.Guan Yi, did not attend, but submitted an important scientific paper for the record. In his paper, he mentioned that there is room for improvement in China's supervision of infected areas, but he claimed that “he did not allege that the relevant government department had concealed the bird flu epidemic on purpose.”
However, in an earlier interview with Hong Kong and overseas media, Guan Yi had repeatedly criticized the CCP for concealing the extent of the bird flu epidemic. His laboratory in Shantou, Guangdong Province, was closed because of his statement. When interviewed by Canada's The Globe and Mail, Guan Yi even indicated that he has direct evidence proving that the CCP had covered up the true situation, and that “actually, the bird flu virus is everywhere in China.”
Chairman Kwok Ka-Ki of the Legislative Council's Health Services Committee is bewildered by Guan Yi's sudden disavowal of his former statements, saying, “I do not know whether he has any undisclosed problems; I hope not.”