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China acts to stop new SARS spread

Suspected case in the Philippines

Masked border guards at Hong Kong's Hung Hom railway station.
Masked border guards at Hong Kong's Hung Hom railway station.

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The SARS virus has resurfaced in China. CNN's Jaime Florcruz reports.
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Experts believe the SARS virus is rooted in Chinese animal markets. CNN's Mike Chinoy reports (Contains graphic images).
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BEIJING, China (CNN) -- The Chinese government has announced steps to try to prevent another SARS outbreak after confirming the country's first new case of the flu-like disease since July.

China's Health Ministry said Monday that a 32-year-old television producer from the southern province of Guangdong, who developed a fever on December 16 and was taken to hospital four days later with pneumonia, had tested positive for the disease.

According to the ministry, the man is in stable condition and no longer has a fever.

The World Health Organization (WHO), which has been conducting a joint investigation with China, said that an independent Swiss laboratory confirmed the results.

Chinese health officials denied reports by Hong Kong media that there is a second suspected SARS case in Guangdong.

China announced Monday it will slaughter thousands of civet cats -- and several related species -- in the wildlife markets in Guangdong in an attempt to stop the spread of the disease. (WHO urges caution)

Civet cats, considered a delicacy in southern China, are widely available in markets and restaurants there. But scientists have long suspected the weasel-like mammal of spreading SARS from animals to humans.

The nation's scientists have linked the animal to a patient through genetic tests.

"After the last SARS epidemic was over, the sale and consumption of wild animals in Guangdong have picked up momentum again," said Feng Liuxiang, deputy director of the province's health department. "So we have decided to strengthen the regulation of wildlife markets with a series of resolute measures."

Authorities have ordered all of the province's wildlife markets to close.

SARS killed 774 people worldwide and sickened nearly 8,100 before subsiding in June.

The flu-like illness claimed 349 lives on China's mainland and more than 5,000 were stricken.

Meanwhile, the Philippine's Department of Health said Monday a Philippine woman has been isolated in a Manila hospital as a suspected SARS case. (Filipino woman new suspect)

Health officials are awaiting the results of lab tests, which are expected late Tuesday or sometime Wednesday. Earlier in the year, the Philippines had 14 SARS cases, in which two people died.

According to Dr. Yolanda Oliveros, a spokeswoman for the secretary of the Department of Health, the 42-year-old woman returned to the Philippines on December 20 from Hong Kong where she is employed as a domestic worker.

A medical worker outside a Guangzhou hospital where the SARS patient is in quarantine.
A medical worker outside a Guangzhou hospital where the SARS patient is in quarantine.

The woman was brought to a provincial hospital on January 1 and was then transferred to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine in Manila, which is charged with tracking the nation's SARS cases.

Dr. Ning Ville, a Philippine SARS spokeswoman, said when the woman was sent to hospital on New Year's day she was suffering from a moderate to high grade fever, was having difficulty breathing and had a cough -- classic symptoms of SARS.

She first exhibited symptoms on December 24, four days after arriving from Hong Kong -- an area flagged by health officials as a possible reemergence area for the virus.

Oliveros said the woman has been diagnosed with atypical pneumonia and is under isolation. Health Dept. Secretary Manuel Dayrit told reporters Monday that many viruses can cause atypical pneumonia, not just SARS and declared the situation to be under control, saying all the proper steps were being taken.

The woman's family has been placed under isolation.

Her husband has a fever, cough and an acute upper respiratory infection, Ville said. The woman's three children have not shown any symptoms.

The woman's contacts since late December are being traced in the Philippines and in Hong Kong, health officials said, and if her case shifts from a suspected SARS case to a probable case, they will be isolated as well.


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