Health and quarantine workers are being urged to press hard to prevent another SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) outbreak after two new cases were confirmed in Guangdong Province, and to stay on the alert for bird flu from neighboring countries and regions.
The SARS confirmations came from the Ministry of Health on Saturday just as the country's hectic Spring Festival travel season unfolded.
The ministry said the third diagnosed patient, a 35-year-old businessman, was still hospitalized but has had a normal temperature for 12 consecutive days.
"None of the people in contact with him has developed a fever or shown any abnormal symptoms," a report stated.
In fact, 22 of the 28 people who had contact with the man are now free from quarantine.
The ministry said the second of the three diagnosed SARS patients in Guangdong since last December, a 20-year-old waitress, has been discharged from hospital.
All her 100 contacts are no longer under observation. The waitress worked at a restaurant in Guangzhou that served civet cat, a suspected source of the disease.
Meanwhile, sources with the Guangdong Agricultural Bureau said it had prepared 100 million vaccines for poultry and have established 10 working stations across the province for bird flu supervision.
There are altogether 1.36 billion poultry in the province.
Dr Robert Breiman, an epidemiologist with World Health Organization (WHO), said on Friday in Guangzhou that there is, "good reason to believe that wild animals are the reservoir of the ultimate source of SARS."
He also assured reporters at the press conference that this year there will be no repeat of last spring's outbreak of SARS.
The China Wildlife Conservation Association called on people to abandon bad habits of eating wild animals and protect wildlife.
The association urged people to move foods made of wild animals off their holiday tables in the coming Spring Festival, the country's most important time for family gatherings.
Vice Premier Wu Yi said on Saturday that China will improve its coordinated efforts to prevent the outbreak of SARS in five provincial areas in North China.
During an inspection tour of Tianjin, Wu said governments in the region, which include Beijing and Tianjin, will launch proper publicity campaigns to prevent the disease.
She called on departments of quarantine, railway, transportation and civil aviation to strictly follow anti-SARS regulations in order to prevent the spread of the disease.
Alerts on bird flu were also sounded in cities in the Chinese mainland, especially those along eastern and southern coasts.
To keep bird flu and mad cow disease out of the city, Shanghai has banned poultry and beef imports from countries affected by the illness. Millions of chickens have been killed in Republic of Korea, Viet Nam and Japan as well as in Taiwan of China.
Shanghai Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau has seized a total of 421 kilograms of South Korean chicken and US beef.
Poultry and poultry products from South Korea, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, the United States, Chile, Viet Nam and Japan are on the Chinese mainland's ban list.
Serious measures are being taken by Shanghai authorities and organizations to prevent outbreaks of bird flu and SARS, Song Guofan, spokesman of Shanghai Health Bureau, told China Daily yesterday.
So far, no such new cases, either suspected or confirmed, have been found in Shanghai, thanks to a sounding mechanism laid to detect and supervise possible cases of SARS or bird flu.
Starting this week, all clinic patients are required to have their temperature taken upon arrival at hospitals. Patients with fevers will be taken to special "fever clinics" for further examination. Patients with respiratory symptom will be given a mask and transferred to fever clinic as well.
All hospitals should report the number of fever cases received every day to the health bureau.
"This way, we can attain the first-hand and extensive network for possible SARS patients, thus enable hospital to quarantine and treat the suspected patient immediately," he said.
All doctors and nurses who work in the related department and may have direct contact with SARS patients have also received intensive training to better handle the case, if it occurs.
The Disease Control and Prevention Center also denied earlier media report that legionnaire's disease is spreading in Shanghai.
The report said that two thirds people in Shanghai have been infected with such diseases, which killed 9 people in France since last month.
"I don't know how that newspaper got the figures. There must be some problems (with the figures)," said Li Yanting, an official with the center.
She was also quoted by a Shanghai portal website eastday.com that "only several such cases have been found in Shanghai."
Legionnaires' disease accounts for 1 to 8 percent of all pneumonias and about 4 percent of fatal pneumonias acquired in hospitals. The outbreaks usually occur when the Legionella bacteria has spread through the air conditioning systems of hotels and hospitals, as well as office buildings.
All doctors and nurses who work in the related department and may have direct contact to SARS patients have also received intensive training to better handle the case, if it occurs.
In a recent survey conducted by Shanghai Municipal Center For Disease Control & Prevention, covering 336 hospitals and clinics in the city, the center found that 86.31 percent of hospitals have complete record of all infectious disease patients.
In related department, the figure rose to 94.63 percent.
Shanghai Party Secretary Chen Liangyu said in the recent conference that Shanghai should attach great importance on preventing SARS. "All related government bodies and organizations should take strict precautions and make sure all measures are fully implemented," he told health officials.
(China Daily January 19, 2004)