China’s Official H1N1 Death Count Suspect

Currently, China has tallied 53 deaths due to the H1N1 flu. However, some medical experts have questioned that number. Zhong Nanshan, prominent Guangdong-based doctor known for his candor during the SARS crisis, suggests that the death toll may be far higher due to cover-ups in reporting. From China Daily:

Zhong Nanshan, a Guangzhou-based doctor famous for his candor in exposing a cover-up of the SARS epidemic in 2003, took concerns a step further, suggesting some local governments had deliberately concealed suspected cases.

“I just don’t believe that there have been 53 H1N1 deaths nationwide,” Zhong told the Southern Metropolis Daily. He said the number could be far higher.

The MOH reported that there had been 69,160 H1N1 cases on the mainland as of Monday.

In the article, Zhong said some parts of the country – he would not say which parts – were not testing severe pneumonia deaths to see if they were, in fact, H1N1 deaths.

From Reuters:

“It’s irresponsible to treat these cases as ordinary pneumonia deaths,” Zhong said of untested deaths, according to the paper.

Zhong said his home Guangdong province was acting responsibly, but the report did not say which areas he had doubts about.

Cover-ups by local governments in 2003 during the SARS epidemic led to the sackings of several officials. More than 300 people died in that outbreak.

The Health Ministry did not have immediate comments on Zhong’s remarks.

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