South China's Guangdong Province has denied rumors that
patients suspected of having SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory
Syndrome) or bird flu had been hospitalized in the Eighth Municipal
People's Hospital in Guangzhou, the provincial capital.
The denial came after a Hong Kong based newspaper carried an
article saying "the hospital has quarantined several fever patients
that may have SARS or bird flu," a report by the Guangzhou-based
Nanfang Daily said on Monday, without identifying the
The article triggered fear of an epidemic, with reporters from
Hong Kong and Macao rushing to the hospital for the scoop.
However, hospital president Tang Xiaoping said the hospital had
not received any patients suspected of having SARS or bird flu.
Xiong Yuanda, a spokesman with the municipal health bureau,
refuted the article, adding that fears were groundless.
"Every local health agency is required to report epidemic
outbreaks as promptly as possible, and we will keep the press and
the people informed of any news about epidemics," said Liao Xinbo,
deputy director of the provincial health department, adding that
information will also be conveyed to health agencies in Hong Kong
and Macao Special Administrative Regions.
The SARS virus first emerged in Guangdong in 2003, and China is
also at the center of the fight against the H5N1 bird flu virus,
with dozens of animal outbreaks and 22 human cases since 2003.
The Ministry of Health has urged local governments to be on
alert for SARS and human cases of bird flu, and to strengthen
health prevention work. Local health agencies have to report cases
of pneumonia where the cause is unclear, human cases of bird flu,
ordinary influenza cases and SARS.
(Xinhua News Agency January 22, 2007)