Singapore, April 22 (Reuters): Singapore Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong said China should have told the world of the deadly SARS virus earlier and that its initial handling of the illness was wrong.
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) first appeared last November in China’s southern province of Guangdong before spreading to some 25 countries in recent weeks, killing 225 people and infecting 4,081 worldwide. “I think the WHO (World Health Organisation) would have wished that they would have done this in November last year and all of us would be much happier,” Goh told BBC Television when asked if he wished there had been greater transparency from China earlier in the process.
Beijing has adopted new openness over the flu-like SARS to defuse international criticism that China was late in telling the world it was facing a new disease and then slow to share its data.
“I think in China’s case, it’s a big country and the provinces do not always tell the centre what’s happening in a particular province,” Goh said. “The reason is simple. Everybody hopes it will go away and try to hide it because tourism will be affected and livelihood will be affected,” Goh said in the interview, shown today.
SARS has killed 92 in China with the total number of cases reaching 2,001, the official Xinhua news agency said yesterday.