China’s Response To Disease Outbreaks In Past Cause For Caution With Recent Plague Cases, Opinion Piece Says
Foreign Policy: The Real Reason to Panic About China’s Plague Outbreak
Laurie Garrett, former senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations and Pulitzer Prize winning science writer
“…In the absence of clarifying, calming information from their government, Chinese people have been venting fear and concern on Weibo and other social media platforms. Their fear may be fueled by the role played by Chaoyang Hospital, which Beijing residents remember well from the 2003 SARS epidemic, when the authorities hid victims of that epidemic in the hospital, denying for weeks that the virus had even reached Beijing. … Despite its devastating impact on human history, Yersinia pestis need not inspire fear or death in 2019. … China’s National Health Commission has assured WHO, according to an agency spokesperson, that a robust effort is underway to find and monitor all individuals who have been in contact with the Beijing couple, both in Inner Mongolia and during their travel to Beijing. The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, modeled closely after the U.S. CDC, has indeed proved skilled in disease surveillance. But given the Chinese government’s public health history — covering up the 2003 SARS epidemic even as it traveled to 30 other nations, denying the spread of the dangerous H5N1 influenza in the country for years, and stifling social media accounts of outbreaks — a fair amount of caution and skepticism is merited” (11/16).