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Words in the News
Monday 21 April 2003
SARS Beijing
SARS 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:
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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.

Holly Williams, BBC, Beijing
Listen Listen to the words
not giving full details of; giving less than the real total of
frightening situation
by ten times; multiplied by ten
If something happens belatedly, it happens later than it should have done.
playing down
If you play something down, you try to make it seem less serious or important than it really is.
sudden and severe
the cover-up
the attempt to prevent the full details from being made public
to come clean
to admit what has been kept secret; to tell the unpleasant truth
getting through
being understood. If you get through to someone you succeed in making them understand what you are trying to say.
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