The organisers of the Beijing Games could not buy some good luck with all the tea in, well… China!
The latest news from Xinhua on the epidemic of Hand foot and mouth disease (HFMD) confirms 15,799 cases and 26 fatalities.
What you should know:
- All people infected are younger than 5
- “Despite foreign cable news reports screaming about a ‘deadly’ virus, the virus is treatable and not that deadly.” (Via Danwei)
- HFMD has reached all 18 districts of Beijing with 1,482 infections recorded
- “Although it is still too early to tell if the epidemic has peaked, the World Health Organisation does not think it will be a threat to the Olympics.” (Via Shanghiist)
This brings back ominous memories of SARS and Bird Flu for many, and media coverage has been under scrutiny, after the terrible cover-ups that escalated the previous epidemics so badly.
On the plus side Danwei observes:
“Xinhua and CCTV have not shied away from reporting about the disease, a welcome change from the days of SARS in 2003, when a disease outbreak was treated as something to be ashamed of and covered up.”
However on the flip-side (Via Shanghaiist again):
“While we’d like to think Chinese health officials have come along way since the days of SARS, Reuters says a few children died from HFMD as early as March and a delay in the outbreak has triggered criticism in the media.”
It does not look as if this will be an Olympic story after all – touch wood. It is a shame that a human story (that’s 15,799 poor families who are extremely unlikely to be thinking about the Olympics right now) has this political edge, but if lessons are being learnt then that should improve the trust of those visiting the Olympics this summer.