01/16/2004, 00.00
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WHO: Sars under control in Guangdong

After a week of inspections in Guangdong, World Health Organization (WHO) experts revealed that for the time being Sars doesn't constitute a serious and immediate threat to the region. According the American epidemiologist, Dr. Robert Breiman, two important preventative measures have been taken which will allow citizens to confront better an eventual new Sars crisis. 

Three hospital structures have been well equipped to receive a considerable number of patients at any time.

Merely as a precaution, a group of WHO experts traveled to the nearby region of Guangxi, where they found no trace of the virus. Dr. Breiman launched criticisms at Guangdong authorities for having announced a few days late that there were three confirmed infected patients. The virus seems to be less aggressive in these cases, but further verifications must still be performed. This is reassuring news to millions of Chinese as they prepare to travel throughout the country during the Chinese New Year.

When inspections were over, WHO experts concluded that the there is direct and evident link between animals and the transmission of Sars to humans. Evidence of the virus was found in some restaurants where suspected infected patients were working and where civet cats were served, considered a delicacy in southern China.   

Traces of the coronavirus were discovered in animals of the largest live animal market in Guangzhou, the Xinyuan. Experts believe that it very likely that contact with or consumption of animal meat caused Sars to spread at the end of 2002 and served as the virus's breeding ground.

According to Dr. Breiman, rodents are an important vehicle for infection, uet it is not equally clear that the civet cat can be blamed.

General Director of Guangdong's Public Health Department, Wang Zhiqiong, said that in recent weeks health authorities culled 4000 civet cats in restaurants, markets and farms and another 665 wild animals. 

Xu Ruiheng, an official at Guangdong's Disease Control and Prevention Center, stated that it is still forbidden to ship, cook and eat civet cats. In Guangdong a campaign is underway to kill all rats. Thousands have been killed, and in Guangzhou alone, 144 tons of rat poison have been used to exterminate the rodents in 4000 contaminated areas, the Information Times reported.   (MR)
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