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China's bird flu response shows new openness

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GILLIAN WONG | April 11, 2013 04:16 AM EST | AP


SHANGHAI — China is showing a greater openness in its response to a new strain of bird flu that has sickened a few dozen people and killed nine.

In the outbreak's epicenter, the Shanghai city government has posted updates on its Twitter-like microblog. Signs are posted in apartment compounds warning residents to watch out for the symptoms of the virus. Hospitals usher patients with high fevers into separate treatment sections.

It's a far cry from a decade ago when Chinese officials silenced reporting a deadly pneumonia known as SARS killed dozens in the south.

The growing openness is winning kudos from international health experts. It reflects lessons learned from SARS and the demands of a more prosperous and educated citizenry for information and its use of social media to get it.