Last updated at: (Beijing Time) Wednesday, June 18, 2003

WHO Opens Global Conference On Fatal Virus

While remarkable success has been achieved in the SARS prevention and control work in China, much remains to be done before the epidemic can be eliminated.


While remarkable success has been achieved in the SARS prevention and control work in China, much remains to be done before the epidemic can be eliminated.

Gao Qiang, China's executive vice-minister of health, made the remarks at the World Health Organization global conference on SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), which opened here Tuesday.

Gao said the Chinese Government will take more responsibility for public health and control of infectious diseases.

Gao said China will increase input in prevention and control, improve the public health emergency alert and response system, and the outbreak reporting network.

China will strengthen the medical treatment system, particularly the rural healthcare system.

Gao briefed participants about the SARS situation in China and the measures taken by the Chinese Government to control the epidemic.

SARS is a disaster to all mankind, and China is the biggest victim of it, he added.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a cumulative total of 8,460 probable SARS cases had been reported worldwide by Monday, among which 5,326 cases are on the Chinese mainland.

Gao said the mobilization of the public has played an indispensable role in containing the spread of SARS.

More than 1,000 scientists, clinicians and specialists are taking part in the two-day global conference on SARS.

The WHO Tuesday lifted a warning against travel to China's Taiwan Province, which was imposed due to the SARS outbreak.

WHO Regional Director for Western Pacific Shigeru Omi made the announcement at a news conference on the sidelines of the international conference on SARS in the Malaysian capital.

Omi said the WHO's decision, with immediate effect, was based on the overall improving situation there.

The Chinese delegation led by Vice-Minister Gao also includes five health experts from Taiwan.

In another development, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said Tuesday in Beijing at a regular briefing that the Chinese Government had promoted the participation of the Taiwan representatives at the conference.

This showed the Chinese Government has always attached great importance to the health and well-being of Taiwan compatriots and its sincere and flexible attitude on handling technical issues.

In the medical field, there are frequent exchanges between the mainland and Taiwan, and the Chinese Government has actively promoted exchanges and co-operation across the Taiwan Straits, Liu said.

However, Beijing has stressed on many occasions that the Chinese Government resolutely opposes political activities by any person to split the motherland under the pretext of public health issues.

Beijing has repeatedly expressed its firm opposition to Taiwan's request to attend the WHO as an observer, for it is a specialized agency of the United Nations, where sovereignty is required.

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