The "300 deaths" story grows even more interesting. China Daily has published a story: Ministry rebuts human infection cover-up allegation. And the Chinese aren't just saying Masato Toshiro is wrong; they're saying he wasn't even there.
"The Ministry of Health has checked with the WHO and verified that there was not a single Japanese virologist among the specialists sent by the WHO to investigate the bird flu epidemic in Hunan," a ministry spokesman said.
The Japanese virologist's allegation that several hundred Chinese people died of bird flu was not based on facts, the ministry said in a statement made available to China Daily Friday night.
A WHO spokesperson said at a press conference in Geneva that China and the organization have co-operated well on bird flu, and China has not concealed any human infections, said the statement.
So now we have new questions: Was Masato Toshiro indeed in Hunan, and if so, was he there on behalf of WHO? If he wasn't, why would he—an established and respected virologist—make such claims?
And maybe it's just a quirk of translation, but the ministry of health seems to choose its words very carefully: The reports are "rumors," not "false," and a Japanese virologist may well have been in Hunan without being part of a WHO-sponsored group.
And who was the WHO spokesperson, and why didn't that spokesperson clearly state whether Masato Toshiro was or was not part of the Hunan team?
Update: The China blog EastSouthWestNorth has some interesting comment on this issue, with a link to an earlier post about Boxun News. The blogger is pretty skeptical about the whole story.