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China's Anti-SARS System Much Stronger: WHO Official

A World Health Organization (WHO) official said in Beijing Wednesday that WHO believes China's anti-SARS system is now strong enough to prevent a big SARS outbreak. 

"The system is much stronger than it was and even if we were to see some sporadic cases, we believe the system is strong enough to prevent a big outbreak like we saw at the beginning of 2003," Julie Hall, SARS team leader of the WHO China Office, told Xinhua.


She said WHO could see the government was committed and aware, and "it is working extremely hard trying to get a diagnosis on the case and to ensure that all precautionary measures have been put in place."


"The Guangdong case was detected and reported very early, and it was reported promptly to the WHO and responses have been quick in terms of isolating the patient, the contact tracing and other investigations," Hall said.


"It's very important that the laboratory findings are confirmed and reconfirmed. And we are very grateful for the large amount of information that the Chinese government has provided to us," she said.


As for the reason for there being no final diagnosis to the suspected case, Hall said it was very difficult to diagnose SARS.


"Unfortunately, we don't have one test that if it came up positive, we would definitely say this case is SARS. A great number of tests need to be performed, not just for SARS but for many other diseases that can cause pneumonia," she said.


"Only when we have the results of all those tests and we have consistent results from a number of different laboratories, then we would be able to make a firm diagnosis. But that takes time," she said.


According to Wednesday's reports from the Chinese Ministry of Health (MOH), the suspected SARS case in south China remained as a suspected case only. The patient was in stable situation and no one who had been in close contact with the patient showed abnormal symptoms, noted the MOH.


(Xinhua News Agency January 1, 2004)

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