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Quality Care for Beijing's Expatriates
Authorities have stepped up their efforts to keep foreigners in Beijing safe from SARS, officials said Wednesday.

A special briefing was held Wednesday to address concerns among foreigners about SARS and to outline China's work in preventing and treating the disease.

The foreign ministry has produced brochures, held information sessions, set up hotlines about the flu-like virus and also asked relevant departments to designate specific hospitals for foreigners with SARS in the capital, reported Xinhua.

In Beijing, three hospitals - China-Japan Friendship Hospital, the Beijing Union Medial College Hospital and Ditan Hospital - have been designated for treatment of foreign patients with SARS, officials said.

Qu Wenming, head of the Beijing Service Bureau for Diplomatic Missions, said his bureau has done much to contain the spread of the disease since a SARS-Related Emergency Team was set up in early April.

Since April 3, the public areas, including lobbies, elevators, hallways, corridors, stairways and handrails of the diplomatic residence compounds and office buildings have been cleaned and disinfected every day, he said.

After learning of the death of Pekka Aro, a Finnish official with the International Labor Organization, the Housing Service Corporation (HSC) for Diplomatic Missions immediately sterilized the public areas in Taiyuan Diplomatic Office Complex and other buildings with the help of professionals from Beijing Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Qu said.

One Chinese employee who worked with Aro for several days was sent to hospital for medical observation and then discharged from hospital on April 20 after being confirmed healthy and free from SARS infection, said the official.

To reduce the number of unnecessary visits to the diplomatic residential compounds, the HSC is planning to put up notices, reminding non-residents not to enter, he said.

For other independent residences which have diplomatic community, professional sterilization services will be provided by the CDC if asked, said another official with the bureau who asked not to be named.

People have also been appointed to take responsibility for different diplomatic areas and report daily on the health status of diplomats to the SARS-Related Emergency Team, she told China Daily.

On March 31, a diplomat from the Kyrghyz Republic who had just returned from Singapore was sent to the China-Japan Friendship Hospital with suspected SARS, the official disclosed.

In another development, He Jingbin, deputy general manager of the Beijing International SOS Clinic, told reporters they have received many calls since a hotline on SARS was set up.

But as of yesterday, no foreign patient or people from Hong Kong, Macao or Taiwan had been confirmed by his clinic as infected by SARS, he said.

Readers who want to know more about SARS prevention and treatment can email us at national@chinadaily.com.cn. We can then contact experts to answer your questions.

(China Daily April 24, 2003)

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