The bird-flu scare has hit the city at a bad time, with many citizens still distrustful of the authorities after the dumping in March of 16,000 dead pigs into tributaries of the Huangpu river. The government has still not said what killed the pigs, although it says it has found no trace of H7N9 in those tested for the virus. That the second H7N9 fatality was a pork butcher has done little to reassure the public.
Even in the official media, questions have been asked about why 27 days elapsed between the first death from H7N9 and its public announcement. The authorities say it took that long to confirm the cause, because the virus had never before been identified in humans. They have not explained, however, why on March 7th, three days after the first death, health officials in Shanghai denied rumours in social media that people had died of bird flu in a local hospital. One man was later proved to have died there of bird flu, along with one of his sons who was not found to have the virus. Despite official denials, suspicions remain that this could have been human-to-human transmission.
A deadly outbreak of bird flu is testing China’s political leaders, as well as its response to health emergencies.
Perhaps not. In the dead of night last Thursday, the statue was dismantled. Workers left some ugly blue corrugated iron fencing in its place.
“This may mean the left wing is growing more powerful in China,” speculates Kong Weidong, spokesman for the International Reunion Association of Confucius’ Descendants. “This was definitely a government decision. The mystery of Confucius’ disappearance from Tiananmen Square