More Co-operation Needed to Track Causes of SARS Virus

Chinese scientists should strengthen the links between themselves and their foreign counterparts to expedite research on the SARS coronavirus, a World Health Organization (WHO) specialist urged Thursday.

Speaking in Beijing during a press conference, the WHO's Pierre Formenty congratulated Chinese scientists for the obvious progress they had made.

"But there is a need for more and better co-ordination among Chinese scientists and between China and the outside world," the zoonotic disease expert said.

Formenty is one of the heads of a joint team of Chinese Government, WHO and United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization officials which returned from the nation's south on Tuesday.

The 14-member team - with eight WHO representatives and six domestic experts - conducted a week-long investigation into the possible animal carriers of the SARS coronavirus in Guangdong Province, where the disease was first seen in November.

A range of scientific institutes from different departments and from throughout China should seek unity in research on the flu-like virus, pinpointing what they can do themselves and where co-ordination is needed, Yi Guan, a Hong Kong-based expert from the team, told China Daily.

The Chinese Government's attitude towards fighting SARS and relevant research is positive and the State Council has set up a leading office in the Ministry of Science and Technology to organize the local research.

However, the research should be better designed and planned as a whole by the authorities and experts to strengthen co-ordination between domestic scientists and the rest of the world, Yi said.

Yesterday's press briefing came after a meeting between the inspection team and several different ministries in the national capital.

At the meeting, the team issued a series of recommendations and an action plan to not only try to identify the disease's animal carriers, but to contain any future outbreaks.

People's Daily Online ---