WHO expert joins SARS investigation

WHO experts arrive in Guangzhou
Domestic and international health authorities are investigating a suspected case of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), officials said Monday.

A laboratory expert from the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr Tuckweng Kok, arrived in Beijing Monday morning to review the test results of the case, said Roy Wadia, a media spokesman of the WHO Beijing office.

A man surnamed Luo was reported as a suspected SARS case last Saturday in Guangzhou, capital city of Guangdong Province.

It will be unknown whether the 32-year-old man has SARS until test results are revealed said a press release from the office Monday.

Meanwhile, a five-member joint expert team of the Health Ministry and the WHO, including three WHO experts, arrived in Guangzhou yesterday afternoon to provide additional support to the investigation that is already under way.

And the WHO said it is meeting daily with the ministry and all information about the suspected SARS case in Guangzhou is being freely shared, including details about the clinical state of the individual, the laboratory investigation and the public health response.

"Although the final diagnosis of this case is still awaited, the WHO has been strongly assured that all appropriate steps have been taken by health authorities to ensure that any risk to the public health has been minimized,'' said the office.

Meanwhile, none of the 81 people who once had contact with the suspected patient have, so far, shown any symptoms of SARS, said Wang Zhiqiong, deputy director of Guangdong Provincial Bureau of Public Health, yesterday.

Some of the people who have been isolated for more than two weeks have been discharged, Wang said.

And Tang Xiaoping, president of Guangzhou No 8 People's Hospital, said Luo has had no fever or coughs for five days.

Tang believes Luo will be discharged from hospital in 10 days.

Meanwhile, Wang also denied a rumour that Luo's girlfriend has fever and other related symptoms.

Luo, who lives in Riverside Garden in Guangzhou's Panyu District, started to have fever, headache and other symptoms on December 16.

But the source of Luo's disease is not known.

Luo had no contact with wild animals and was reported to have been in Guangzhou for more than a month before he started to have fever and was isolated.

Some experts and doctors in Guangdong Province suspect the coronal virus of SARS might have come from mice.

That would explain why the buildings where many mice were found had more SARS patients and suspects in the previous outbreak of SARS.

Guangdong Provincial Bureau of Public Health has issued a notice urging government departments and hospitals to take measures to prevent SARS from spreading again in the province where the world's first SARS patient was detected on November 16 of 2002.

Health inspections in major border checkpoints, airports, railway stations and bus stops have been expanded.

Stock trading outlets, public buses, shopping centers, cinemas, parks, scenic spots, hospitals and other public venues operated normally in the past week.

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