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China confirms 3 more SARS cases
Updated: 2004-05-04 17:36

Three suspected cases of SARS in the Chinese capital, Beijing, have now been confirmed, taking the number of victims of the latest outbreak to nine, the Health Ministry said on Tuesday.

Japanese tourists wear masks to ward off SARS at the Forbidden City in Beijing May 2, 2004.[Reuters]
All three newly confirmed cases of the highly contagious deadly flu-like SARS were linked to one viral disease laboratory in Beijing, it said on its Web site.

Only one of the nine has died so far. Hundreds of people have been isolated for observation in the past couple of weeks, but travelers have been taking to planes and trains undeterred for the week-long May Day holiday that ends on May 7.

The cases are limited to people who worked at Beijing's Institute of Virology, where SARS samples are kept, and others who had close contact with them or patients infected by them. One person has died.

The latest confirmed cases are the father of a nurse who treated an infected lab worker, the nurse's hospital roommate and a person who helped take care of the roommate, the Health Ministry said.

The World Health Organization says that because the cases are in such a limited group, they aren't a public health threat. But the agency wants to find out what went wrong with lab safety, and a WHO team in Beijing has interviewed people at the SARS lab and the hospital where the patients were treated.

Nearly 800 people died of the potentially fatal illness worldwide after Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome last year.

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