Time needed to determine the cause of SARS outbreak
China's Ministry of Health said Saturday that it is making thorough investigation into the cause of recent severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic in Beijing and east China's Anhui Province, but time is still needed to reach a conclusion on the sources of this outbreak.
The ministry said the first diagnosed SARS patient surnamed Song was a medical graduate from Anhui Province studying in the Virology Institute under the Beijing-based Chinese Center for Disease Prevention and Control. Another SARS patient, a medical doctor surnamed Yang, also worked in the institute.
Shortly after the occurrence of SARS epidemic, an expert team was set up consisting of members from China's Academy of Military Medical Sciences, and Beijing and national disease prevention and control centers. The team has made epidemiological investigations into the two cases and interviewed all the staff working at the laboratory of Virology Institute, the ministry said.
The experts also conducted field investigations and collected samples at the laboratory, the ministry said, adding that the samples have been sent to two Chinese national laboratories and a World Health Organization (WHO) network laboratory for testing.
However, the expert team believes that more tests should be done on the laboratory samples as well as the samples of the two cases and those infected by them, in order to separate and verify SARS virus and determine the virus sequence.
"Therefore, we still need to wait for a period for the final result," an official with the ministry said.
The ministry said except one SARS patient surnamed Zhang in Beijing, other patients were all in good conditions and recovering quickly. Beijing's first diagnosed SARS patient Li has recovered and was discharged from hospital on May 4.
The ministry also announced that no new SARS cases were reported on the Chinese mainland in the 24 hours from 10:00 a.m. Friday to 10:00 a.m. Saturday.
The ministry said that SARS patient Song in Anhui Province is now in good condition with normal temperature for 15 straight days and all the people isolated for medical observation in the province have been proved free of the disease and thus removed from quarantine.
The ministry said Beijing SARS patient Zhang is in critical condition due to previous diseases, but all the other SARS patients are in stable condition and keep recovering.
So far none of the people in close contact with the reported SARS cases in
Beijing have shown abnormal symptoms and the city has removed 693 from medical
observation, the ministry said.