Beijing Sends 30,000 Out
To Search For SARS Victims
By Margaret Neighbour

Thousands of investigators fanned out across a district in Beijing yesterday, searching for victims of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) virus, as the World Health Organisation (WHO) revealed the outbreak had yet to reach its peak in China.
Some 30,000 investigators inspected businesses and homes in Haidan, a district of 2.2 million people.
Households were given a thermometer and emergency contact numbers. Offices and businesses were told they must install temperature-monitoring systems.
Strict measures have put more than 25,000 people in quarantine across China but the death toll is still rising, with 138 more cases and eight new fatalities reported yesterday.
Beijing has about 2,000 cases of infection - nearly half the county?s total - and 107 of the 214 deaths.
Chinese premier Wen Jiabao said the outbreak in the Chinese capital "still remains grave". He ordered officials at all levels to work hard against the illness or face harsh punishment, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
"It is very important to do the job well in Beijing, which is the capital and the political and cultural centre of the country," Mr Wen said.
In Brussels, European Union health ministers yesterday agreed that passengers arriving from SARS-infected countries should fill in questionnaires on their travels but rejected subjecting them to medical checks.
The ministers considered an Italian proposal to screen all passengers arriving from SARS-affected zones, but turned down the idea.
"This would be false security. We can?t afford that," said Klaus Schroeder, Germany?s junior health minister.
Several proposals had been laid out in draft conclusions from an emergency meeting to discuss how to prevent the flu-like SARS outbreak from spreading in Europe. The ministers also declined to give their blessing to a European Commission plan for an EU centre for disease prevention and control, but recommended instead closer co-operation between existing national centres.
But it is China that is still giving most cause for concern.
Gro Harlem Brundtland, WHO director-general, said before yesterday?s meeting in Brussels: "We have a window of opportunity. We still can contain the first new disease of this century and make it go away."
Later she warned that SARS was still spreading despite tough action. "Certainly, we have not seen a peak in China yet," she said "There is obviously an increase in the outbreak going on."
The US electronics firm Motorola said yesterday it had closed its China headquarters in Beijing after an employee contracted SARS.
To stop the spread of SARS, Beijing has closed schools, built a new 1,000-bed hospital on its outskirts and ordered travel restrictions.
In central China, protesters in Hujiayao village in Henan province ransacked a hospital on 28 and 29 April that had been designated as a SARS treatment centre, destroying walls and fencing.
"People were worried about being infected, because the hospital was close to the village," said a local official.
In the nearby city of Linzhou, a mob attacked a hospital and a disease-prevention office on 28 April after hearing the two sites were to receive SARS patients, officials said.
Hong Kong yesterday reported six more SARS deaths, pushing its tally to 193. However, only nine new cases of infection were reported.
One new death was reported in Taiwan. Singapore also reported a new SARS death.
Hong Kong doctors say some SARS patients have survived by receiving a serum containing antibodies to the virus obtained from recovered patients.



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