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Third SARS case reported in China

If confirmed, the man would be the 3rd patient who has contracted SARS this winter, which first broke out in Guangdong in Nov 2002.

india Updated: Jan 12, 2004 14:59 IST
Anil K Joseph (Press Trust of India)
Anil K Joseph (Press Trust of India)

China has kept in observation a 35-year-old man with suspected SARS symptoms in south China's Guangdong province, where one confirmed and one suspected case of the dreaded disease have already been reported, even as experts are investigating the source of the fresh outbreak.

If confirmed, the man would be the third patient who has contracted the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) this winter, which first broke out in Guangdong in November, 2002.

"The Ministry of Health has received the report from Guangdong health authorities on Saturday that a man with some SARS symptoms has been isolated in hospital for medical observation," Mao Qun'an, a spokesman was quoted as saying by the state-run China Daily on Monday.

Local physicians are attempting to diagnose the case, Mao said.

Hong Kong's Department of Health had on Sunday announced that Guangdong provincial health officials had notified them of the new suspected case of SARS, but it was not confirmed by mainland authorities.

Roy Wadia, a World Health Organisation spokesman in Guangzhou with a team of WHO experts, said they would be meeting Health Ministry officials to discuss the latest case as well as the earlier suspected case of 20-year-old waitress, who was identified on Thursday.

A WHO expert team visited Lijiang garden, in Panyu district, where the 32-year-old confirmed SARS patient, surnamed Luo, had lived to identify the source of the virus.

They swept through the apartment interviewing people and inspecting water systems, garbage facilities and living quarters to identify the source of the deadly virus.

"Our environmental experts scoured the building," Wadia said.

Medical experts have yet to confirm the new case and local health authorities did not report the case as a suspected one to the Ministry of Health.

"There's always been a problem with case definition with SARS-actually identifying a case. So we want to understand clearly the basics that Guangdong is using," WHO Beijing office spokesman Bob Dietz said in the capital.

On Saturday, the team visited the restaurant where the second suspected SARS patient had been working as a waitress and a wild animal market in Guangzhou. The waitress is now in a stable condition.

All the 100 people who have had contact with her, including 48 with close contact, have shown no SARS symptoms, China's Health Ministry said.

The team is the second joint expert group of the WHO and China's Health Ministry to visit Guangzhou in one month.

SARS first appeared in southern China and infected about 8,000 people around the world last year, killing about 800. About two-thirds of the cases and about 350 deaths were in China.

Many experts believe the flu-like respiratory disease jumped from animals to humans in Guangdong province where local people are fond of dishes made out of wild animals like civet cats.

Chinese scientists say the weasel-like civet, a small mammal related to the cat family, has emerged as prime suspect of carrying the SARS virus.

First Published: Jan 12, 2004 00:00 IST