When Censorship Spreads Disease

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Maryn McKenna in Wired criticizes the Saudi government handling of the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) for trying to control information about the spread of the disease:

While we wait to see the full extent of MERS, the one thing the world can do is to relearn the lesson of SARS: Just as diseases will always cross borders, governments will always try to evade blame. That problem can’t be solved with better devices or through a more sophisticated public-health dragnet.

The solution lies in something public health has failed to accomplish despite centuries of trying: persuading governments that transparency needs to trump concerns about their own reputations. Information can outrun our deadly new diseases, but only if it’s allowed to spread.

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