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WHO in Qinghai But Denied Permission to Visit Xinjiang

Recombinomics Commentary
June 21, 2005

>> Nearly three weeks after the World Health Organization and the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization sought permission to visit the site of an outbreak among migratory geese and other wild birds, Beijing gave its approval late last week, allowing a small group of representatives from the two international bodies to fly to the site yesterday.

WHO officials had asked to combine the trip to Qinghai with one to Xinjiang, where a second outbreak of the disease -- with the potential for a human pandemic -- had been detected. That request was denied, although health officials say they still hope to win approval to visit Xinjiang..<<

Permission for WHO and FAO to visit Qingahi is a welcome development although the three week delay is cause for concern.  China has acknowledged over 1000 bird flu deaths involving at least 5 species of migratory birds, but third party reports indicated over 8000 bird had died as well as several mammalian species including humans.

Similarly, recent reports have describe a pneumonia outbreak in Tacheng in Xinjiang.  The location coincides with another H5N1 outbreak in geese.  The affected population was domestic geese, which is unusual since H5N1 usually does not cause illness in waterfowl like ducks ad geese.

The report on the pneumonia cases was quite specific and the infections involved both patients and health care workers.  A timely visit could have eliminated speculation that these pneumonia cases are caused by H5N1.  The denial of permission to WHO at this time increases speculation that he human cases in Xinghai and Xinjiang are being hidden from WHO and the rest of the world.

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