WHO experts to visit China on SARS
( 2003-10-14 07:48) (China Daily)
Experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) are poised to begin work on the prevention and control of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)in China, officials revealed yesterday.
Up to half a dozen experts will arrive in Beijing next week to join four others who have already started working in China.
The experts will be separated into several groups and do research and investigation work in infection control, epidemiology and other areas for fighting against the possible outbreak of SARS as cold weather approaches," said Bob Dietz, a spokesman for the WHO office in Beijing.
The team of experts will be headed by Julie Hall, who will be responsible for WHO's SARS research over the next two years, said Dietz.
The team will work in Beijing and possibly other areas of China for about three months,and then other experts might be sent to China according to the need.
The WHO experts will do their investigation and research in close co-operation with their Chinese counterparts organized by the Ministry of Health and Chinese Centre for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC).
A recent sudden temperature drop in most areas of China has sparked fears of a possible return of SARS which was first found in South China's Guangdong Province last November and infected 5,327 people.
The affliction caused 349 deaths in 24 provinces and regions of the country.
The WHO has issued a warning message from its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, that SARS could reappear in November.
A young researcher was infected with SARS in a laboratory of Singapore in August.
Officials from the Ministry of Science and Technology and some experts noted that since the accident in Singapore necessary measures for safety have been taken in China's laboratories.
Meanwhile, the country has mobilized to prepare for another outbreak of SARS as winter approaches.
It was unlikely the SARS virus would die out naturally, and it could definitely come back, Zeng Guang with the China Disease Control Centre was quoted by Xinhua as saying.
"But the scale of the epidemic depends on the control measures we take," said Zeng.
Zhong Nanshan, a prominent SARS researcher, agreed the disease could return this winter. However, with the strict reporting mechanism and experience from the last crisis, the epidemic would likely not cause serious damage again, he said. Zhong is an academician with the Chinese Academy of Engineering.
Caught unprepared last spring,authorities have learned to act quickly before the epidemic can take a hold.
Last Thursday, Chinese Vice-Premier Wu Yi urged strictly implementing the daily SARS epidemic reporting system and warned that people who delay reporting or hiding the true situation would be severely punished.
The Ministry of Health has restarted its daily public information releases of the surveillance of SARS since September 19, as it did during the epidemic period.
Up to now, no new suspected or confirmed SARS case has been reported to the ministry.
North China's Tianjin Port resumed a temperature reporting system on Sunday. Any passengers through the port with a temperature above 38 degrees Celsius will be provided medical observation and reported to relevant authorities.
In Beijing's Union Medical College Hospital, plans are ready for fever patients to receive treatments in a special section. Doctors in that ward, wearing protective clothing, will observe patients for any possible respiratory diseases. Patients with high fever and symptoms of respiratory diseases are required to be observed for one or two weeks.
North China's Shanxi Province and Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, the two other hardest-hit areas in the last SARS crisis, have each set up an emergency response mechanism and mobilized all concerned departments.
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