In July Qingdao Experiences a Mysterious Epidemic, Experts Suspect Epidemic Cerebrospinal Meningitis
In July 2008, at the hospital affiliated with Qingdao University, Qingdao Municipal Hospital, and other large hospitals, every day tens of thousands of people exhibiting common cold symptoms have been referred from small and medium sized hospitals around the city. These patients all exhibit common symptoms including extreme headaches, vomiting, high fevers that do not break and other symptoms of illness. Senior citizens and children are exhibiting even more extreme symptoms that include liver and kidney ailments and difficulty breathing. As of July 15, the number of infected people in the urban district of Qingdao is 160,000, with 1251 deaths.
As the number of infected continued to rise dramatically, the Qingdao municipal government health department took action to placate the public mood. They mustered experts to proclaim in the media that it was merely an outbreak of infectious influenza, and reassured people that it would not spread widely. But this propaganda effort was unsuccessful, and as the number of those falling ill and dying continued to rise, people became increasingly worried about what kind of mysterious illness was spreading.
On July 12, the Qingdao municipal government convened a conference involving all the city health bureaus and illness control centers. At the conference, the circumstances of the epidemic were discussed, including the suspicion that it is epidemic cerebrospinal meningitis. In order not to negatively impact the smooth hosting of the Olympics sailing competition, it was emphasized that news of the epidemic was to be classified as top secret and patients were to be quarantined. In addition, the policy of "loose on the outside, tight on the inside" was to be continued, with public statements continuing to maintain that the illness was due to infectious common colds.