Beijing on Tuesday warned cadres not to cover up the spread of a mysterious new coronavirus that started in central China, saying anyone who withheld information would face severe punishment and be "nailed on the pillar of shame for eternity".
Chang An Jian, the official social media account of the Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission - Beijing's top political body responsible for law and order - ran a commentary on Tuesday telling cadres not to forget the painful lessons of Sars and to ensure timely reporting of the current situation.
More than 700 people were killed around the world by the severe acute respiratory syndrome outbreak in 2002-03, which originated in China.
"Anyone who puts the face of politicians before the interests of the people will be the sinner of a millennium to the party and the people," the commentary read.
"Anyone who deliberately delays and hides the reporting of (virus) cases out of his or her own self-interest will be nailed on the pillar of shame for eternity," it added.
The commentary cited an instruction issued by President Xi Jinping on Monday that the virus must be "resolutely contained" and that all cadres must make "the safety of people's lives and their physical health" the top priority.
It stressed that transparency remained the best defence against rumours and public panic.
"Only by making information public can (we) reduce (public) fear," it said. "People don't live in a vacuum and (we) will only provide a breeding ground for rumours to grow if we keep them in the dark and strip them of their right to (know) the truth."
The commentary referred to the Sars outbreak as an example of this, saying delays and a cover-up in reporting the epidemic had hurt the government's credibility and affected social stability.
"Deceiving ourselves will only make the epidemic worse. It will turn a controllable natural disaster into an extremely costly man-made disaster," the commentary said.
The new strain of coronavirus was identified this month after a mystery pneumonia started striking people in Wuhan in mid-December. Four people have died from the virus so far, and there have been more than 220 confirmed cases. It is so far known to have spread to Thailand, South Korea and Japan in addition to the cases in China - in Wuhan, Beijing, Shanghai and the southern province of Guangdong. One of China's top Sars experts, Zhong Nanshan, confirmed on Monday that the virus could be transmitted between humans, and that it was likely to have originated from wild animals.
The commentary also mentioned Zhong's trip to Wuhan with a delegation of Chinese health experts.
"Today … the National Health Commission has invited Dr Zhong Nanshan, who led our fight against Sars 17 years ago, (to offer his professional advice)," the commentary said.
"It is not just his wealth of experience in infectious disease control but also (his message) on the importance of publicising information that provides reassurance," it said. "(We needed) to get him to the scene a little earlier this time."
Sign up now for our 50% early bird offer from SCMP Research: China AI Report. The all new SCMP China AI Report gives you exclusive first-hand insights and analysis into the latest industry developments, and actionable and objective intelligence about China AI that you should be equipped with.
Copyright (c) 2020. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.Artikel Asli