Sars story lands website boss in labour camp

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 28 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 28 February, 2012, 12:00am


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Baoding police in Hebei have sent a website owner to labour camp for two years for spreading a rumour about a case of severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) at a military hospital.

The website owner posted 'fake information that the People's Liberation Army 252 Hospital in Baoding had confirmed a case of Sars' on their website to raise its profile, police said in an online statement. 'The owner reposted their own postings many times to create influence and disturb social order,' the police said. 'Baoding Public Security Bureau's Xinshi district division sent the person to re-education through labour camp for two years on February 26.'

Re-education through labour, which can last for four years, is a form of administrative detention imposed by police without trial.

Rumours were rife online last week that 'a whole floor of the PLA 252 Hospital was sealed off with suspected Sars patients and a soldier had been confirmed dead with Sars'.

Many people expressed concern but Baoding's health bureau did not deny the outbreak until Friday. The Ministry of Health issued a statement on Saturday reaffirming the denial and said patients at the hospital with respiratory tract infections and fever were not infected with Sars.

'[We have] ruled out Sars, H1N1 swine flu and bird flu, and diagnosed them with a respiratory tract infection caused by adenovirus type 55,' the ministry said. 'Most cases are mild and there has been no critical or fatal case. [It] is under control.'

Feng Zijian, of the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention's emergency response department, said adenovirus is a common cause of respiratory infection and the adenovirus type 55 infection can spread via droplets and close contact. He said it was usually spread among new military recruits and students living in dormitories.

There was a severe adenovirus type 55 infection outbreak at a high school in Shaanxi in 2006, with 254 students infected, one of whom died. It is not one of the 39 diseases, such as Sars and H1N1 flu, required by law to be reported to higher authorities within a designated time. Sars is a form of atypical pneumonia caused by a type of coronavirus.


The number of lives lost in Hong Kong during an outbreak of Sars in 2003

- 1,755 people were infected in the city