Beijing rejects flu claims

April 29, 2009 12:00 am

, BEIJING, Apr 29 – A senior Chinese health official said Wednesday that overseas media reports pointing to China as the source of a swine flu outbreak were aimed at tarnishing his nation’s image.

"Driven by ulterior motives, some overseas media have ignored the facts of the epidemic and basic scientific knowledge and deliberately fabricated rumours that this epidemic came from China," health ministry spokesman Mao Qunan said.

"(They) aim to muddle right and wrong, create disturbances and ruin China’s image," he said in a statement posted on the ministry’s website.

A number of press reports have said that the swine flu virus originated in Asia, with some quoting the Mexican governor of Veracruz, Fidel Herrera, as telling reporters Monday that the virus began in China.

"We are resolutely opposed to this," Mao said.

He said China was ready to work with the international community to help curb the spread of the A/H1N1 swine flu which has killed seven in Mexico and has spread around the world.

So far China has not reported any human cases of the swine flu.

"At present we have not detected any cases of human infection of this virus, nor have we discovered any similar infections in pigs," Mao said.

In recent years China has suffered outbreaks of other diseases that scientists believe could lead to a global pandemic, including the 2003 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak and more recently avian flu.

"After the swine flu epidemic broke out in the United States, Mexico and other places, the Chinese government placed a lot of importance on this and immediately initiated the emergency prevention system," Mao said.

"In the process of fighting this epidemic, our nation will maintain close cooperation and make common efforts with the World Health Organisation and the governments of nations hit by the outbreak."

According to the China News Service, China on Wednesday agreed to give Mexico five million dollars in aid to help fight the outbreak.



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