SARS Is 'Serious Disaster' to Mankind: Chinese Vice-Health Minister

The severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is an unexpected and serious disaster to human beings, threatening the health and safety of the people in Asia and even the world, Chinese Vice-Minister of Health said here Tuesday.

Gao Qiang, executive vice-minister of health, made the remark at the opening of the ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), China, Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK) (10+3) High-Level Symposium on SARS.

Gao said the first SARS outbreak was recorded in south China's Guangdong Province at the beginning of this year.

On February 11, before other countries and regions reported any SARS case, Gao said, China made public the SARS situation in Guangdong.

However, owing to limited understanding of the new contagious disease, the vice-minister said "the measures we adopted then were not strong enough and SARS began to spread in Beijing, Shanxi, Inner Mongolia and some other places."

The Chinese government has earnestly drawn lessons from past experience and adopted more effective measures to prevent, controland treat the epidemic, said Gao.

The SARS situation in China has improved and the rise in SARS cases has been subdued, Gao said.

In mid-April, 154 probable cases were added on a daily basis; the figure slipped to an average of 151 in the first ten days of May. In the second and third ten days of May, Gao said, the figure dropped to 45 and 12, respectively.

By June 2, five provinces in China's mainland had had no SARS cases, while northeastern Heilongjiang Province and the northwestern Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region went without clinically diagnosed SARS cases.

People's Daily Online ---