Global Alert and Response (GAR)

Update 35 - Update on China: New numbers, May Day holiday reduced

21 April 2003

China

The Chinese government today announced a further 109 SARS cases in Beijing. This latest report comes after Sunday’s announcement of 339 previously undisclosed SARS patients. There is no breakdown of the number of patients in regular and military hospitals. The new numbers bring the total of confirmed cases in China to 1,959.

In an indication that the Chinese leadership is now taking seriously the need for transparency in SARS reporting, the health minister and Beijing mayor, both of whom played down the seriousness of SARS, were removed from their Communist Party posts.

China also reduced its traditional week-long May Day holiday to a single day, a period when hundreds of thousands of people generally travel throughout the country. “The purpose of such an act is to prevent the massive movement of people and the possible spread of the disease,” said Gao Qiang, an executive vice health minister.

A six-member WHO team also arrived this morning to investigate SARS in Shanghai. Shanghai has officially confirmed two probable cases of SARS. No deaths have yet been reported in Shanghai.

The WHO team will conduct a four-day probe in which they will confer with local health authorities, inspect hospitals and examine measures taken to prevent and control the spread of SARS.

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