China alert against SARS comeback during Spring Festival

Surveillance and monitoring systems against severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) has gone into full gear as an estimated 1.89 billion people in China's mainland are travel around during the Spring Festival, which falls between Jan. 22 to 28, .

Since south China's Guangdong Province reported three clinically confirmed SARS cases in December 2003 and January 2004. Beijing, one of the regions most seriously hit during last year's SARS outbreak, requires people whose body temperature exceeds 38 degrees to be sent to special "fever clinics" immediately.

Transport vehicles entering Beijing from Guangdong, Hong Kongand Taiwan will berth away from other vehicles at airports, railway stations and bus stations. Passengers from the above regions are required to take temperature examinations.

In addition, local medical institutions, police and quarantine departments are also mobilized to safeguard a SARS-freeSpring Festival in the capital city.

Echoing Guangdong's recent move to cull civet cats, one of the most probable SARS virus carriers, Beijing also banned sellingand eating of the animal, said Deng Xiaohong, vice director of Beijing Municipal Public Health Bureau.

Quarantine departments have tested the 600 civet cats in Beijing for the SARS virus and the results are negative, accordingto Deng.

In north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, another former SARS-hit area, authorities are also on guard.

Zhang Lianzhong, head of the Inner Mongolia Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said delayed isolation of 12 incoming SARS patients caused spreading of the disease in Inner Mongolia last spring and the mistake will not be repeated this year.

The fact that SARS reappeared in Guangdong will not necessarily lead to another round of SARS in Inner Mongolia, said Zhang, who considers his hometown well-prepared for any probable SARS comeback.

Compared to Beijing, Shanghai effectively controlled the disease quickly last year, and is trying to continue the success during this year's Spring Festival and in days to come.

At present, 160 local hospitals have started to report clinical respiratory and fever pneumonia cases daily to Shanghai'sdynamic SARS surveillance system. Disease control and prevention centers at various levels have rehearsed SARS emergency proceduresmany times to ensure effective reaction to a reoccurrence of SARS.

Over 1,800 epidemiologists and 113 medical emergency teams are available at any time for a SARS case in Shanghai, according to the Shanghai Center of Disease Control and Prevention.

While government departments and medical workers are on alertagainst SARS, Chinese people's preparations for the Spring Festival have not been disturbed.

A survey of 2,815 households in Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou,Nanjing, Hangzhou, Wenzhou, Chengdu, Wuhan and Shenzhen showed 40 percent of the surveyed families were not afraid of SARS comeback and 70 percent said they were well-prepared for the another outbreak.

Source: Xinhua

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