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Secrets around SARS like China's cover-up

Secrets around SARS like China's cover-up

The Government's handling of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome cases in New Zealand is looking like a Chinese cover-up, says National Health Spokesperson Dr Lynda Scott.

"Every day we are hearing more confusing and contradictory information in how SARS is being handled.

"Yesterday the Ministry of Health said only one of eight patients notified as having SARS was a probable case. Today we have reports that several of the eight cases dating back to March could have the disease.

"What has changed overnight that one minute we only have one case but the next minute there could be eight?

"While the Ministry and the Minister are commending themselves and health officials for their "excellent" response, we find today that a woman on the tour group with the Hawkes Bay woman who has SARS, has never been directly informed by a health official. "I fail to see how it can be "excellent" that health officials know of a woman at risk of having this deadly disease travelling about New Zealand, and posing a risk to others, but they don't track her down to inform her.

"The Hawkes Bay woman's proactive response was excellent, but that health authorities left another woman from her tour uninformed is lax.

"That we are only hearing about these cases through complaints to the media, and we are not hearing the full story about reported cases amounts to a cover-up.

"The Minister has a responsibility to keep the public informed, instead of fudging the facts. Our hospitals and health officials need to be prepared to deal with SARS. It will not go away at the flick of positive spin from the Minister," Dr Scott says.

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