In China, the World Health Organisation says that the number of officially reported cases of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome or SARS has once again risen rapidly. Most of the cases were in Beijing. New figures come only one day after the government admitted that it had not made public the full number of cases. This report from Holly Williams:
Just a day ago people in Beijing thought that their city had SARS under control, with fewer than forty reported infections. Then, in an unusual move in this authoritarian state, the government admitted to under-reporting the number of SARS patients. Today's figures take the new official total to well over four hundred. Beijing's SARS nightmare has increased more than ten-fold in just twenty-four hours.
Belatedly, after months of playing down the epidemic, China has signalled a drastic new approach to SARS, sacking Beijing's mayor and dismissing the health minister from his Communist Party job as punishment for the cover-up. China says it wants health officials to come clean about SARS and this sudden new jump in reported infections seems to indicate that the message is getting through.