Sat, Apr 26, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Chen slams China for concealing start of SARS epidemic

By Lin Chieh-yu  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) attacked China again yesterday for concealing the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).

"China not only concealed the fact of its SARS epidemic but is also on record for concealing the spread of foot and mouth disease. The Beijing authorities' disregard for the protection of the health of both humans and animals is truly outrageous," Chen said.

He made his remarks during a meeting with Abdoulaye Niang, vice-president of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) at the Presidential Office.

Chen stressed that since the OIE's establishment in 1924, it has been committed to the prevention and cure of animal epidemics and the organization has made outstanding achievements in the fields of animal quarantine and hygiene.

"Among the OIE's 162 members, Taiwan, which joined the organization in 1954, has constructively fulfilled its obligations," Chen said. "On the other hand, China has neither paid its membership fee nor contributed to any related activities held by the OIE," Chen said.

He said Taiwan will participate in more OIE events in order to have the opportunity to make more contributions in the future and, in return, the country hopes to enjoy more support from the international community, including Senegal, which is both Niang's home country and an ally.

Niang responded by saying that Taiwan's contributions have been recognized by the OIE and that he believes Taiwan's voice will be heard as the world learns more about its achievements.

Meanwhile, Chen urged anyone who has been quarantined because of the outbreak of SARS to be cooperative and patient. He also said he had sympathy for their plight.

"I understand that detention is inconvenient and I am really sorry about that," Chen said, "however, for the sake of the whole country and the health of fellow countrymen, I hope everyone will fully cooperate with the government's medical and health departments."

"The prevention of the spread of SARS requires joint efforts by the central government, local governments and civil sectors," Chen said.

He stressed that it was not necessary to panic or overreact, adding, "Just remain on alert about the spread of the disease."

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