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Beijing reports new suspected SARS case
Updated: 2004-04-28 16:53

China reported one new suspected SARS case in Beijing for the past 24 hours, China's Ministry of Health said Wednesday.

Quarantines continued for people who came in contact with the two newest confirmed SARS cases in Beijing and the eastern province of Anhui. Hundreds remained in isolation Wednesday for medical observation in Beijing and Anhui, WHO said.

Members of a WHO team arrived in Beijing on Wednesday. WHO said the teams of about a dozen specialists came at the government's request and include experts on infection control and laboratory biosafety. They will work in both Beijing and Anhui.

``There's no significant public health threat from SARS in China,'' WHO spokesman Bob Dietz said. ``The situation appears to be under control.''

However, Dietz said: ``China is pretty much on red alert.''

In a new outbreak in the past week, two SARS cases were confirmed and seven suspected cases reported, including the one announced on Wednesday. All were linked to the National Institute of Virology, a Beijing lab where investigators suspect workers caught and spread severe acute respiratory syndrome.

``It seems plausible, though not proven'' that the first case became infected at the institute, WHO said in a statement Tuesday night.

Authorities say a 26-year-old lab worker named Song, in Beijing, passed SARS to a 31-year-old nurse named Li, whose father, mother, aunt and roommate also are ill and are suspected SARS cases. Song returned to Anhui and her mother died shortly thereafter, and experts suspect SARS.

The newest suspected case is a 49-year-old woman surnamed Zhang who was being treated in the same hospital room as Li, China Central Television said. She was in critical condition Wednesday afternoon, Xinhua News Agency said.

Liang Wannian, deputy director of the Beijing Health Bureau, called the public to ``trust the government's capacity on SARS control."

``All the official departments in Beijing, especially the health departments, have made full preparations for SARS prevention and control to guarantee our citizens a safe and happy holiday,'' Liang said, referring to Labor Day and its millions of travelers just days away.

Beijing has also set up a SARS prevention headquarters.

``The citizens should also have the sense of self-protection and try not to have close contact with fever patients,'' Xinhua added.

WHO said in a statement it was particularly concerned that Song took several long train rides while suffering SARS symptoms, putting other passengers at risk.

Chinese officials have stepped up scrutiny of pneumonia patients to make sure they don't have the disease. The suspected cases were improving, and Song promised friends in a mobile-phone text message: ``I will try my best to recover.''

Song was in stable condition and no longer infectious, the government said.

Li, the nurse, has been in a stable condition with a normal temperature for 11 successive days, Xinhua News Agency reported Wednesday.

China's Health Ministry said there were 18 visitors from Australian, Russia, Republic of Korea, Japan to Institute of Virology of the Chinese Center for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), where one diagnosed and one suspected SARS cases have worked for a while.

The ministry has informed the visitors, countries concerned and the World Health Organization of relevant information and no abnormal problems have been reported yet.

Experts believed the SARS case in the Chinese mainland in April might have been caused by lab infection. The Chinese mainland has reported one diagnosed SARS case and one suspected case in Anhui and one diagnosed SARS case and six suspected cases in Beijing since April 22.

No other provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities have reported diagnosed or suspected SARS case.

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