Six Hong Kong deputies to the National People's Congress (NPC) have urged mainland health officials to share more information about the atypical pneumonia outbreak with the special administrative region (SAR). Ma Lik, a Hong Kong delegate to the mainland's top law-making body, said he and fellow deputies, Allen Lee Peng-fei, Priscilla Lau Pui-king, Ip Kwok-him, Yeung Yiu-chung and Tsang Tak-sing, made the plea in a letter sent to the Ministry of Health and the NPC's standing committee yesterday. Their plea came amid criticism that the infectious disease notification system between the mainland and Hong Kong has proven unsatisfactory. Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa said on Thursday that the central government had given the green light for Hong Kong and Guangdong to strengthen co-operation in clinical treatment and control of infectious diseases. 'We request the ministry to urge health officials across the country, particularly from Guangdong, to release information about atypical pneumonia as soon as possible and on a regular basis,' Mr Ma said. The deputies also urged the Ministry of Health to share the experience of controlling the disease with Hong Kong. 'Guangdong has tackled more than 700 atypical pneumonia cases over the past few months and claimed that it has put the disease under control,' Mr Ma said. 'Its experience can provide valuable reference for Hong Kong health officials.' Mr Ma believed that Guangdong authorities had delayed the release of information to avoid triggering public panic. Guangdong health officials announced on February 11 that 305 people had been struck down by the disease, nearly three months after the first case was reported. It was not until Wednesday that the officials gave another update, which revealed that the number of patients jumped to 792 by the end of last month, and that among them, 31 have died. The World Health Organisation confirmed earlier that the atypical pneumonia reported in Guangdong was the same disease now sweeping other countries. Tse Long, a Hong Kong delegate to the Guangdong People's Political Consultative Conference, said it was understandable that Guangdong health officials had not shared information about the disease immediately after cases first appeared because doctors still knew little about it. 'But they should have released the information not later than the end of January,' he said. Lau Siu-kai, head of Central Policy Unit, the Hong Kong government's think tank, said it was necessary to step up cross-border co-operation in disease control and notification as part of integration with the mainland. In a letter to Guangdong Governor Huang Huahua on Thursday, Allen Lee also asked the provincial authorities to say whether it had stopped the spread of the disease. 'There are hundreds of thousands of people travelling between Hong Kong and Guangdong a day,' he said. 'Strengthening of information sharing is badly needed to control the disease.'