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WHO team meets Chinese officials to discuss SARS

Experts met Chinese officials to discuss new SARS case, after a 35-year-old man in Guangdong was suspected of contracting the SARS.

india Updated: Jan 12, 2004 14:59 IST

World Health Organisation (WHO) experts met Chinese health officials Monday to discuss a new suspected SARS case, after Hong Kong authorities said a 35-year-old man in Guangdong province could have the respiratory disease.

"The WHO is meeting with public health experts and China's national CDC (Centre for Disease Control) to discuss this most recent suspect case," Bob Dietz, a spokesman for the world body said.

"We expect to get details later today," he said.

A Hong Kong Department of Health consultant Sunday announced that Guangdong provincial health officials had notified them of a new suspected case of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome.

It was not clear why Hong Kong announced the case. Health authorities in Beijing Sunday denied there were any new suspected cases, suggesting that the mainland reporting system was hamstrung and slow.

China's Ministry of Health has ordered that all reports on the SARS outbreak must be announced by central health authorities, although the WHO has urged them to expedite all reporting on the potentially deadly illness.

The official China Daily said the Ministry of Health was aware of a report by Guangdong health authorities of the new suspected case on Saturday.

"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," the newspaper quoted Mao Qunan, a ministry spokesman, as saying.

A 20-year-old waitress meanwhile remained under quaratine Monday after she became the second suspected case of SARS last week, while a 32-year-old-man -- the first confirmed SARS case this winter -- was released from hospital last Thursday.

The WHO said they were also awaiting results from several environmental laboratory samples taken from animal markets and the apartment building of the first cofirmed SARS case. Dietz said they hoped the tests might shed light on the source of the virus.

SARS emerged in southern Guangdong province in November 2002.

Chinese officials were stung by criticism of their slow reaction to the outbreak that resulted in a worldwide health crisis causing 774 deaths from more than 8,000 infections.

China was worst hit with 5,327 infections, 349 deaths and substantial damage to the economy.

First Published: Jan 12, 2004 14:59 IST