The Taipei Times, Taiwan's main newspaper, is today having a go at the Chinese authorities for apparently covering up the outbreak of SARS. On the newspaper's website, there are banner ads for the Taipei cycle trade show.

SARS impacts on Taiwan’s trade show; show ramps up advertising to domestic market

According to The Taipei Times, the Taiwanese government has urged Beijing to provide more information about SARS, severe acute respiratory syndrome.

The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) said it was especially worried about China’s possible link with the outbreak of the illness, a form of atypical pneumonia, because millions of Taiwanese visit China each year. So far, only five suspected cases of the disease have been reported in Taiwan.

A World Health Organization (WHO) team is in Beijing trying to determine whether the atypical pneumonia outbreak was linked to the global spread of SARS. A WHO official in Geneva said that the experts had sought permission to get into Guangdong Province but it had not immediately been granted.

The MAC issued a report Tuesday night that criticized Beijing for providing little information about the sickness.

"Because China is not sharing information, the source of the contagion has not been clear and the period of risk for the outbreak has been lengthened. This hasn’t helped us protect ourselves from an epidemic."

Statistically, the risk of catching SARS is extremely slight but business travel to Taiwan is well down. Steve Fenton of the European Cycle Development Agency is now in Taipei but he believes overseas visitors to the trade show will be thin on the ground:

"The flight I came out on was pretty empty. Only four people in business class from Bangkok to Taipei and only eight of us from Amsterdam to Bangkok," said Fenton.

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