A leading Chinese flu researcher Friday urged people to get flu inoculations this year in view of the "possible'' return of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).
"Flu and SARS share a number of symptoms and therefore there is a possibility of misdiagnosing flu cases as SARS,'' said Guo Yuanji, director of the Flu Center under the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Guo estimated that at least 1,000 people suffering from flu or flu that has developed into pneumonia have been misdiagnosed as SARS cases this year in Beijing alone.
Of course, Guo said, such misdiagnosis can be avoided in many cases as long as hospitals strictly implement flu examinations along with SARS checks.
According to Guo, although flu can sometimes be diagnosed in as little as two hours, in many cases it may take as long as two days.
Guo called "ungrounded'' a wide-spread rumor that flu inoculations can lead to SARS.
He says that flu inoculations are especially important this year because there is the possibility of flu spreading in northern China, which will make things more complicated if SARS returns.
In the past one week, many Chinese regions, such as south China's Hong Kong and Guangdong Province, east China's Jiangsu Province and northeast China's Jilin Province, have geared up to prevent the reappearance of SARS, one major aspect of which is flu prevention.
On Thursday, the municipal government of Beijing issued regulations for a three-level emergency alert to prevent the reappearance of SARS.
Travelers at the airport are still required to undergo body temperature checks before boarding.
(China Daily September 13, 2003)