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Army doctor testifies Beijing's cover-up of SARS
Jiang Yanyong, a 72-year-old retired doctor and former Director of the Surgery Department at No. 301 Military General Hospital in Beijing, has been a loyal Communist Party member for over 50 years. Like many medical professionals, Dr. Jiang was shocked and angered when he heard Zhang Wenkong, China’s Minister of Health, announce that there were only 19 SARS cases and 4 related deaths in Beijing. Dr. Jiang condemned the government’s cover-up and disclosed that No. 309 Hospital alone has taken in 60 SARS patients and that 6 persons had died from it by April 3. “That was a controlled and disciplined cover-up,” Dr. Jiang added. “As early as this March while two Congressional sessions were occurring, the Ministry of Health called a meeting attended by leaders from all hospitals to suggest that the SARS virus had arrived in Beijing, and that as a code of discipline no disclosure would be allowed in order to ensure stability for those two Congressional sessions.”
“I am in complete compliance with the Constitution in what I am doing, without any violation of the Constitution. I take full responsibility for every word I say,” Dr. Jiang said. The following is Dr. Jiang’s testimony:
Recent reports on SARS have filled the Hong Kong press, and this is very much noted by the international community, which has reported widely on this threat to human life and health so that the public will have a correct approach toward this matter. This is quite a normal, responsible act for mankind.
On April 3, China’s Minister of Health stated at a press conference that the Chinese government has already seriously taken up the issue of SARS and that this virus has been controlled. The numbers he gave included 12 cases of SARS and 3 related deaths in Beijing. I couldn’t believe it upon seeing that. Zhang Wenkong is a doctor who graduated from No. 2 Military University of Medicine, yet he didn’t even want to possess the most basic human characteristics as a doctor. He could probably become the most favorable student of Li Biao, as Lin claimed, “Without telling lies, one can’t do big deeds.” I suspect that he probably wanted to do big deeds, and thus must tell lies. Today I went to the hospital wards where all doctors and nurses were all angry after watching yesterday’s news. Therefore, I am writing this letter to everyone, and hope that you will also make efforts to be responsible for human life and health by using journalists’ honest voices and joining this fight against SARS.
Next, I will provide everyone with some limited understanding on the situation as far as I know:
During the two Congressional sessions, No. 301 Hospital received an elderly patient who was seriously ill at that time. Because SARS was suspected, he was transferred to No. 302 Hospital for Infectious Diseases. At that time, No. 302 Hospital had no experience and ten doctors and nurses were infected while diagnosing this patient. Because that elderly patient had already become too ill, he died two days after being hospitalized. His wife was quickly hospitalized in No. 302 Hospital and died soon afterwards. At this point, the Ministry of Health called a meeting attended by leaders from all hospitals to suggest that the SARS virus had arrived in Beijing, and that as a code of discipline no disclosure would be allowed in order to ensure stability for those two Congressional sessions. Soon, No. 301 Hospital’s liver division took a patient with liver problems, but he showed sign of SARS after being hospitalized and died after being transferred to No. 309 Hospital. What was unfortunate is that two doctors and three nurses in this liver division also caught this virus. They were lucky to be treated early and are now in recovery, but the liver division had to be closed. Similar situations also occurred in other wards at No. 301 Hospital. Some nurses caught it and the wards were closed. The kindergarten of No. 301 Hospital has also been closed.
After watching the news, I called No. 309 Hospital (now designated as carrying SARS by the military’s General Supplies Ministry) to make inquiries. They have also seen the news and said that Zhang was simply talking nonsense. No. 309 Hospital has already treated 60 cases of SARS and had 6 related deaths by April 3. And the death toll reached 7 by April 5. Because all the ward beds are occupied at No. 309 Hospital, the General Supplies Ministry asked No. 302 Hospital to help take patients. In addition, there are dozens of SARS patients in the medical system of the Armed Police, and 5 of their serious patients have also been transferred to No. 302 Hospital.”
-- Dr. Jiang
Though Dr. Jiang has been a Communist Party member for over 50 years, his public criticism of the government might still bring him trouble or even a prison term. The spokesperson at the Ministry of Health claimed, “In China, military hospitals are independent. Zhang Wenkong has no authority over military hospitals.” Zhang Mao, Vice Mayor of Beijing, refused to respond to Dr. Jiang’s criticism and only explained that the central government and local governments will disclose the related data periodically.
Under heavy criticism from the international community, including the WHO, Beijing has been unwilling to publicly educate its populace on the prevention of SARS. WHO also repeatedly requests that China provide a comprehensive and public report on SARS cases in China.
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