WHO experts inspect Guangzhou restaurant, wildlife market

A joint experts' team Saturday visited the restaurant where the latest suspected severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) patient had been working as a waitress,and a wild animal market in this capital of south China's Guangdong Province.

The team, organized by the World Health Organization and China's Ministry of Health (MOH), is researching all possible channels through which SARS could spread, and is collecting relevant specimens.

A 20-year-old waitress was confirmed Thursday as the second suspected SARS case on the Chinese mainland. She is now in a stable condition, and all the 100 people who have had contact withher, including 48 with close contact, have shown no SARS symptoms,according to the health ministry's daily report Saturday.

The team's inspection of the restaurant lasted over two hours. WHO expert Robert Breiman said the inspection focused on the environmental transmission factors. The team has talked with workers in the restaurant, and made a thorough study of the canteen's environment, especially the place where food is processed. Breiman said an evaluation report is being made.

In the afternoon, the experts went to the city's largest wildlife market. People in charge of the market reported to the team details of the market's operation and environment, and the latter inspected the interior and surroundings of the place, and took photographs.

The team is the second joint experts' group of the WHO and China's health ministry to visit Guangzhou in one month. The firstteam made a six-day investigation from Dec. 29, 2003, targeting epidemiology research and hospital infection control, and also offering technical assistance.

Last July, a 14-member team composed of experts from the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology, the MOH, the WHO and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, visited Guangzhou in connection with the SARS epidemic.

Source: Xinhua

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