WHO experts visit Guangdong suspected SARS patients

WHO experts visit suspected SARS patients
World Health Organization (WHO) experts said Tuesday that the 35-year-old suspected SARS patient was in "very good condition" and was likely to be discharged from hospital soon. The joint mission of the WHO and the Chinese Health Ministry, who are investigating possible sources of SARS infection from animals, humans and the environment in Guangdong, visited the two SARS suspects Tuesday at the No. 8 People's Hospital in the province's capital city Guangzhou.

WHO experts said they had talks with the two patients for over an hour and both of them "looked very well".

WHO epidemiologist Robert Breiman, who talked with the 35-year-old suspected SARS patient identified on Monday, said the patient seemed likely to be able to leave the hospital soon. "We asked him many questions and he answered them all clearly."

But Breiman said two preconditions should be met before the patient could be discharged. "He should have a normal temperature for at least seven days and the shadow on his lung should completely disappear."

Visits to the two suspect SARS patients were originally not included in the joint mission's agenda in Guangdong. "When we arrived here on Jan. 8, we didn't know about the two suspect cases, so we plan to extend our stay here to Jan. 16 to complete extra investigations," said Roy Wadia, the WHO Guangdong team spokesman.

Jeffrey Gilbert, a WHO expert in diseases transmitted by animals, told Xinhua that his team has already got relevant information on the two suspected SARS cases from the Health Ministry and the Guangdong provincial health bureau.

"We believe the face-to-face communication with the two patients would help us better understand their situation and make a diagnosis," Gilbert said.

After talking with the patients, the experts went to the second suspected SARS patient's rented house and collected samples from the walls, floors and desks in the house.

The rented house of the 20-year-old waitress who was identified as a suspect SARS patient was located along a narrow alleyway in Guangzhou's urban district. Local people said houses in that area were not well maintained and mostly used as warehouses.

Meanwhile, WHO China office spokesman Bob Dietz said in Beijing that two laboratories in Hong Kong have been contacted and both are prepared to conduct further tests on samples from both suspects.

"The Chinese Ministry of Health requested samples from both suspected cases be referred to the international SARS laboratory reference network for further analysis," said Dietz. "When the tests are completed, the WHO will be informed directly of the results."

The joint mission of the WHO and the Health Ministry have visited the apartment of the first confirmed SARS case, the restaurant the 20-year-old waitress worked at and the biggest wildlife market, collecting samples from environment and animals.

The WHO experts said the samples have been sent to the laboratories under the Guangdong provincial center for disease control and prevention for testing and analysis.

On Tuesday, the Chinese Health Ministry reported no new SARS case on the Chinese mainland during the past 24 hours from 10 a.m. Monday to 10 a.m. Tuesday. The one diagnosed SARS case and two suspect cases reported so far in this year were all from Guangdong, said the ministry.

Source: Xinhua

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