Suspected SARS case reported; Beijing on alert
( 2003-12-27 15:22) (Xinhua)
A 32-year-old man who has been receiving treatment in quarantine in south China's Guangdong Province was confirmed to be a suspected case of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), said a spokesman of China's Ministry of Health Saturday afternoon.
The Health Ministry and a panel of medical specialists confirmed this case of suspected SARS on December 26.
Wang Zhiqiong, deputy head of the provincial health department, said that the patient claimed he has stayed in Guangzhou City and eaten no wild animals for one month before hospitalization.
The provincial health department was not sure about his claim and is organizing further epidemic investigation and lab examinations.
This is the first suspected SARS case ever found since May 23 when the World Health Organization (WHO) lifted the SARS-related travel advisory against Guangdong Province.
The first SARS case was found in Foshan City of the province in November, 2002.
Chinese mainland's last two SARS patients were discharged from hospital on August 16 in Beijing after more than 100 days of medical treatment.
As of 10 a.m. August 16, a total of 5,327 SARS cases were reported on the Chinese mainland, 4,959 patients were cured and discharged from hospital. Death toll from the disease stood at 349. Of the total figure, 2,521 SARS cases and 193 deaths from the disease were reported in Beijing.
Beijing on alert
Beijing public health departments have responded quickly to the latest suspected SARS case found in South China's Guangdong Province and issued emergency measures to prevent the spread of the disease.
All the hospitals in Beijing should strengthen monitoring and examinations for fever cases, especially those from Guangdong, officials with the Beijing Municipal Health Bureau said Saturday afternoon.
Guo Jiyong, deputy director of the bureau, led a team to check the city's airports and railway stations on their work on SARS prevention and control.
Guo said that all municipal entry-exit inspection and quarantine departments should strengthen temperature screening systems and send any travelers with a body temperature over 38 degrees Celsius to government-designated hospitals.
Special attention should be paid to the travelers from Guangdong and the bureau has kept a keen eye on the information about the suspected case in Guangdong, said Guo.
The latest suspected SARS case was confirmed on Friday afternoon and is receiving treatment at hospital in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong. The case has had normal temperatures for three days and is now in stable condition in Guangdong, according to local hospital sources.
This is the first suspected SARS case ever found since May 23 when WHO lifted the SARS-related travel advisory against GuangdongProvince.
Beijing has already strengthened its prevention to SARS diseaseas a SARS patient was identified in Taiwan Province on Dec. 17. Beijing Municipal Health Bureau urged all labs doing research on SARS to strictly adhere to safety procedures.
Emergency task forces in the city's districts and counties are required to work on shifts night and day to help trace people who had close contact with SARS patients, if any.
Expert: Suspected SARS case no cause for alarm
A leading Chinese scientist said Saturday that it was unnecessary to be alarmed at the report of China's first suspected SARS case since July.
"It is not unexpected that a few cases of suspected SARS have been reported, since it is not likely that the SARS virus will die out so soon after its emergence," said Prof. Zhong Nanshan, director of the Guangzhou Institute of Respiratory Diseases, who has been fighting SARS since late last year.
"Nevertheless, this new suspected SARS case should arouse our attention," Zhong said.
A 32-year-old freelance TV station worker was confirmed Saturday by the Chinese Ministry of Health to be a suspected SARS patient in this capital of south China's Guangdong Province.
"The case does not seem to be infectious, and the patient is recovering very quickly," Zhong said. "But anyone who has long- lasting fever symptoms or lung inflammation should see a doctor immediately."
"His condition is stable," said a doctor at the No. 8 People's Hospital where the suspected SARS patient is receiving treatment in quarantine. His temperature has been normal over the last three days, the doctor said.
However, the health authorities and doctors have yet to know how the patient became infected in the first place.
Wang Zhiqiong, deputy head of the Guangdong provincial health department, said that the patient claimed that he had not left Guangzhou or eaten wild animal meat for one month before hospitalization.
The health authorities have strengthened protection of local medical workers. The patient's living environment and residence have been sterilized to counteract possible infection.
In another development, the health authorities in Shanghai, China's biggest city, have been on high alert after Guangdong reported the country's first suspected SARS case since July.
"We are fully prepared for any SARS epidemic," said Zhang Shengnian, director of the Shanghai Municipal Diseases Prevention and Control Center.
To date, those who have had close contact with the patient have shown no abnormal syndromes, such as fever. But they are still in quarantine, as a precaution.
The Ministry of Health has sent a team to Guangzhou to help deal with the suspected SARS case, after receiving a report from the province.
This is the first suspected SARS case discovered since May 23, when the World Health Organization lifted the SARS-related travel advisory against Guangdong Province.
The first SARS case emerged in Foshan City, also in Guangdong, in November 2002.
Chinese mainland's last two SARS patients were discharged from hospital on August 16 in Beijing, after more than 100 days of medical treatment.
During the outbreak, a total of 5,327 SARS cases were reported on the Chinese mainland, 4,959 of whom were cured and discharged from hospital. The death toll from the disease stood at 349. Of the total figure, 2,521 SARS cases and 193 deaths from the disease were reported in Beijing.
WHO confident in China's SARS preventative efforts
World Health Organization (WHO) officials said Saturday that the public should not panic over the reported suspected severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) case in China's Guangdong Province, and the WHO is convinced that China can prevent a large SARS outbreak.
"We are convinced that the Chinese authorities will work very hard to ensure there will not be a big outbreak," WHO China office Representative Henk Bekedam told Xinhua.
China's Ministry of Health announced here Saturday that a 32- year-old man was confirmed to have a suspected case of SARS. This is the first suspected SARS case found on the Chinese mainland since June 24, when the WHO removed Beijing from its SARS-related travel advisory.
Bekedam said if the suspected case in Guangdong is an isolated one and the necessary preventative measures have been taken, a large SARS outbreak is not likely.
"But the Guangdong case is a good reminder to us," he said, adding that the case shows that SARS could return at any time, and the health authorities should remain vigilant and disease surveillance and precautions measures should be enforced.
"It's now important for the public to stay informed of the latest SARS information, and understand what is happening," said he. Keeping fit and quitting smoking are good precautions, he added.
He stressed that laboratory safety should be paid close attention to, and SARS-related specimens should be either destroyed or kept in qualified laboratories.
Julie Hall, SARS team leader of the WHO China office, said her office received a report from the Chinese Health Ministry on Friday afternoon, which said there was a highly suspected SARS case in Guangdong. "Further information was received from the Health Ministry on Saturday morning, and we are now expecting@information since tests are still being done."
Hall said reports showed that the SARS case in Guangdong was discovered, isolated and reported promptly, and other preventative work including contact tracing was also carried out promptly. " Which indicates that the system (on SARS prevention) in China is working, and in that case the epidemic can be kept under control," she said.
Hall said that the Chinese Health Ministry has asked for the WHO's assistance, and WHO experts will arrive in Beijing early next week. "We are now discussing with the Health Ministry a visit to Guangdong," she said.
"We are very encouraged by the information sharing (with the Health Ministry) and the comprehensive information we are being given. We have very close working relations with the Health Ministry," said Hall.
According to the Health Ministry, the man who was confirmed to have a suspected case of SARS has had a normal temperature for three days, and is now in a stable condition.
The Health Ministry said the man lives in Panyu District, Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong Province. He had a fever and a headache on December 16. He went to see a doctor four days later, and his case was diagnosed as pneumonia in the right lower lung at the No. 1 Hospital affiliated to Zhongshan University. He was transferred to the quarantine ward of the Guangzhou No. 8 People's Hospital Dec. 24.
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