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Anthrax scare at British Embassy in Beijing

Security has been increased around the U.S. and British Embassies
Security has been increased around the U.S. and British Embassies  

By Lisa Rose Weaver

BEIJING, China (CNN) -- The staff of the British Embassy in Beijing has begun anti-anthrax treatment after a suspicious package containing white powder arrived at the embassy, a British Embassy spokesman told CNN Thursday.

Initial tests by Chinese quarantine officials Wednesday came up negative for the anthrax virus, but additional testing was being conducted.

"At the moment, the Public Security Bureau is investigating the source of the package, and the health and quarantine departments are investigating the contents of the package," said Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Zhu Bangzao.

There was no sender's address on the package, but a letter inside was written in English, Zhu said without elaborating.

Meanwhile the embassy's visa section was shut down Thursday, British Embassy Press Officer Ben Fender told CNN.

He characterized that action, as well as staff seeking treatment, as preventive. Asia
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"Those in direct contact with the package got medical attention yesterday," Fender said. "In light of subsequent medical advice, a number of staff were advised to access doctors today,"

CNN staff saw several British Embassy cars in the parking lot of Beijing United Family Hospital, although hospital administrators would not comment on how many people were seeking treatment and the embassy would not detail what kinds of medication they had received.

Both the British and American embassies in Beijing have been under tightened security since the U.S.-led airstrikes began in Afghanistan.


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