Three confirmed SARS cases in China; one dies

Associated Press

Beijing, May 4:

Three suspected SARS patients have the disease, the government confirmed today, raising to

nine the number of people known to be infected in China’s latest outbreak. The cases are limited to people who worked at Beijing’s Institute of Virology — where SARS samples are kept — and others who had close contact with them or patients infected by them. One person has died. The latest confirmed cases are the father of a nurse who treated an infected lab worker, the nurse’s hospital roommate and a person who helped take care of the roommate, the Health Ministry said.

It said no new SARS cases have been reported over the last 24 hours ending at 10 am today. No other people in China are suspected of having severe acute respiratory syndrome.

The World Health Organization says that because China’s cases are in such a limited group, they aren’t a public health threat. But the agency wants to find out what went wrong with lab safety, and a WHO team in Beijing has interviewed people at the SARS lab and the hospital where the patients were treated. The experts visited the lab today for a second time, said Roy Wadia, a WHO spokesman. Wadia it may take weeks to find out how two lab workers became infected and spread it to others. Dr Julie Hall, SARS team leader for WHO in Beijing, said the experts’ first trip to the lab, on Friday, produced few clues. The lab and its equipment are new, she said, and there were no obvious spills reported. Experts planned to interview more researchers at the lab to learn their day-to-day practices and figure out what went wrong, she said at the time.