SARS A threat to homeland security

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With the battle to free the Iraqi people nearing its final and perhaps most dangerous stages, it is increasingly clear that Washington must now treat the disease called Severe Acute Respiratory SyndromeSARSas a looming threat to Homeland security.

SARS now infects 20 countries, over 2,600 people, killing over 100 worldwide, and could spread with great speed: in Hong Kong there are fears that 928 current cases could grow to 3,000, and spread to 80 percent of the population in two years. However, the disease and its true method of transmission have yet to be determined definitively, with cockroaches now suspect as transmitters. According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control, a possible antidote may be a year away.

But as countries step up detection and quarantine procedures, and the negative economic impact grows from cancelled travel, and postponed business, it should not be forgotten: SARS is Chinas disease and it bears primary responsibility for the epidemics outbreak. Chinese authorities suppressed information about the new disease for three months, allowing the infections to spread to Hong Kong and then the world, and prevented early attempts by the World Health Organization to gather on-site data. And surprise, surprise, Agence France Presse reports that the World Health Organization suspects that China has suppressed the truth about the number of their infections.

American authorities responded quickly to contain the spread of SARS, now at 149 suspected cases in 31 states. Chinas new leadership of President Hu Jintao, with former President Jiang Zemin still in control of the military, has failed its first domestic and international crisis, and has demonstrated once again that it is a Communist state which values power over the truth and the lives of its own citizensor anyone elses.

Center for Security Policy

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