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Effective Measures Taken on Disease: FM Spokesman
China is taking effective measures to contain a killer pneumonia virus that is confounding medical chiefs worldwide.

In an update on the situation regarding the atypical pneumonia cases in Beijing and Shanxi Province, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan quoted the Beijing Municipal Health Bureau as saying eight people had been hospitalized this month, and three had died.

Atypical pneumonia begins with a high fever, chill, with coughing and breathing difficulties. It can deteriorate rapidly into pneumonia.

It has been reported that the mystery illness has killed 34 people in the mainland, including 31 from Guangdong Province.

Kong said all patients receiving treatment in Beijing had been sent from other areas of China.

"The Chinese Government will not hide an epidemic situation,'' Kong said, adding he believed the government was capable of dealing with emergencies and ensuring public health.

He said there have been no reports of foreigners becoming infected with the illness in the Chinese mainland.

A WHO team of experts is currently in China to assist in prevention and treatment of the disease. It has expressed satisfaction at the measures the nation has taken to combat the disease.

In Taiyuan, the capital of Shanxi Province, four cases of atypical pneumonia have been identified, Kong said.

"Two of the victims had already recovered and left the hospital by Monday, while the others remain in hospital for treatment and will soon be released,'' Kong told the press conference.

Kong also stressed the Chinese Government was "highly concerned'' about the reported cases of atypical pneumonia in Taiwan and was willing to communicate and exchange information with Taiwan.

In Hong Kong, researchers said Thursday there has been a breakthrough in identifying the atypical pneumonia virus, and diagnostic tests will be available at all local hospitals Friday.

The announcement was first made by the University of Hong Kong's Chief of Virology, Malik Pereis.

Yuen Kwok-yung, senior scientist of the Department of Microbiology at the University of Hong Kong, explained that the new test will be able to reveal if a person has been infected with the virus within three to four hours.

Yuen said such virus can only survive for three hours in dry places, and he called on citizens to be highly careful of the highly contagious disease, which is commonly transmitted by fingertips.

(China Daily March 28, 2003)

Atypical Pneumonia Kills 34 on China's Mainland
Guangdong Reports Progress in Combating Atypical pneumonia
HK Govt Pledges to Give Top Priority to Tackling Disease
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