Kyrgyz Prime Minister Nikolai Tanaev told a news conference in Bishkek on 21 May that there is no truth to media reports that two people in Kyrgyzstan have died of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and that the government is hushing up the deaths, khabar.kz reported the same day. Tanaev said the official who supposedly gave out information about the alleged SARS deaths to the media denies having done so. Tanaev added that such negative publicity could affect Kyrgyzstan's economy, coming as it does at the height of the tourist season. Centrasia.ru, which posted the khabar.kz report on its website, reported that it had received a letter from Bishkek reporting two SARS deaths in Kyrgyzstan and had posted it on 15 May.
Eurasianet, May 21, 2003