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China more transparent in handling epidemics: experts


13:55, April 06, 2013

BEIJING, April 6 (Xinhua) -- Experts have praised China for its increased transparency in handling public health incidents, after the emergence of the lesser-known H7N9 bird flu, which has killed six people since the deadly strain was exposed a week ago.

The Chinese government has been credited with timely releases of information about the H7N9 bird flu, whereas in 2003, authorities were criticized for initially trying to cover up an epidemic of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) which claimed the lives of several hundred people on the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

"China has learned a lesson from the past in dealing with public health emergencies," said Prof. Wang Yukai of the Chinese Academy of Governance.

"The government's response to the disease is completely different from 10 years ago, when information disclosure systems were not established."

The reported 16 human infections, all in east China's Yangtze River Delta, have touched a raw nerve in society, but there has not been excessive panic.

Information about H7N9 was made public by the National Health and Family Planning Commission the day after the first infection was confirmed on March 30, though the determination process took days.

Since then, the commission has kept updating information on new infections on its official website, detailing the patients' ages, location and medical measures adopted. It has also given the public tips on prevention.

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