New virus a big test for China

Source:  New virus a big test for China    Tag:  sars test
The new virus spreading around China's Anhui province is a huge challenge to the Beijing government on two fronts.
First, it's a test of its ability to handle a serious threat to public health.
Second, the way it is handled will tell a lot about progress and openness in China.
The virus has already killed 24 young children and infected around 5,000 more. Enterovirus 71, which is often referred to as hand, foot and mouth disease is expected to peak in the summer as weather hots up.
The government has closed nurseries in Fuyang and is spraying disinfectant around houses in rural areas.
With experience from SARS and bird flu, as well as the additional determination to be seen to act decisively ahead of the Beijing Olympics, it's reasonable to expect the practical side of containing the virus to be handed well.
But the memory of attempted cover-ups and denials when SARS hit are still fresh.
The Chinese authorities say the WHO was informed of the problem with E71 within 24 hours of diagnosis.
Continued transparency and open communication with local people at risk of infection will reveal how far China has come since 2003.