No new SARS cases reported
With no new cases announced yesterday, the confirmed victims of SARS on the Chinese mainland remained at five as of Saturday, said the Ministry of Health.
So far, five confirmed cases, one in Anhui and four in Beijing, and three suspected SARS cases have been reported since April 22.
The ministry said in its daily news release that the 24 hours leading up to 10 am yesterday did not produce any confirmed or suspected cases of SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome).
On Saturday, the latest SARS patient was confirmed in Beijing. The patient, surnamed Yang, was a 31-year-old post-doctoral researcher at the Institute of Virus Diseases under the Chinese Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC).
The patient developed a fever on April 17 and was hospitalized on April 22. Based on the clinical features and results of the epidemiological investigation, the patient was diagnosed as a suspected case of SARS by Beijing health authorities on April 23.
Yang was confirmed as having contracted SARS last Friday afternoon, based on Yang's clinical symptoms, epidemiological history, and etiologic testing results. Those who have had close contact with Yang have shown no abnormal symptoms, Ministry of Health officials said.
Meanwhile, the ministry said that Beijing's first confirmed SARS patient, surnamed Li, is in stable condition and has had a normal temperature for 15 consecutive days.
The three suspected cases are still being isolated and receiving medical treatment at Beijing's Ditan Hospital.
Among all the people in close contact with the reported cases in Beijing, 65 have been released after medical observation. The SARS patient surnamed Song in Hefei, capital of East China's Anhui Province, has maintained a normal body temperature for eight consecutive days and is in stable condition.
The World Health Organization (WHO) announced last Friday that it did not view the latest SARS outbreak in China as a major threat to public health, since all cases could be traced.
WHO experts inspected the Chinese CDC in Beijing on April 30 for the sources of the recent SARS outbreak.
Despite the Chinese health ministry's confirmation that a woman in Anhui Province had died of SARS on April 19, WHO spokeswoman Maria Cheng said: "We still don't view this as a major threat to public health, because all of the cases so far can still be traced immunologically to the national Institute of Virology in Beijing."
Cheng said that although the WHO had not been able to sequence or isolate the virus to determine if it was the same strain as last year's, she said officials are "reassured that we haven't seen this pop up in other regions of the country which are not linked to these people."
The SARS cases have made various levels of governments remain in a state of alert and implement prevention measures.
The Housing Department of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government has activated the Alert Level of its three-level Emergency Response System related to SARS.
Deputy Director of Housing (Estate Management) Lau Kai-hung said yesterday that, following confirmed SARS cases on China's mainland, actions to be taken at the Alert Level included stepping up cleansing and disinfection efforts and inspection of drainage systems and vent pipes at domestic and non-domestic properties in public housing estates.