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WHO: Investigate into sources of SARS cases
Updated: 2004-02-01 09:38

China's Ministry of Health announced on Saturday a new confirmed case of SARS in southern Guangdong Province, and the World Health Organization urged China to undertake an urgent investigation into the sources of infection for the recent Guangdong cases.

The latest case or the fourth in the Chinese mainland -- a 40-year-old doctor -- has emerged in Guangzhou, capital city of the southern Chinese province Guangdong.

The WHO on Saturday issued a strongly worded statement calling for China to undertake an urgent investigation into the sources of infection for the recent cases. "The case raises a number of concerns about the manner in which the man's infection was detected, treated and reported," the WHO said.

The statement reads: "Early detection, swift isolation and prompt reporting of cases are vital in the control of any infectious disease." WHO said it was informed about the case only on January 31.

In the most recent case, the doctor -- a director of a hospital in Guangzhou -- fell ill on January 7 with a high fever, sore throat and fatigue.

The man -- identified only by his family name, Liu -- checked himself into a hospital on January 13. Within five days, "his body temperature dropped to normal and his condition stabilized." Liu "was already discharged from hospital several days ago upon total recovery."

The doctor has denied having any contact with animals or SARS patients. Health officials have been monitoring 48 people who had contact with him, but none has showed any symptoms, it said.

WHO said it was important for health authorities to trace how the patients became sick as soon as possible. "Now we have four cases without a concrete source of infection," Roy Wadia, a WHO spokesman in Beijing, said. "It's something we're very concerned about."

This season's three other patients in the mainland - a businessman, a waitress and a television producer - have been released from the hospital in recent weeks. All were from Guangzhou.

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