Since 22 April, the World Health Organization (WHO) has reported
two people who have been classified as probable cases of severe acute respiratory
syndrome (SARS), and seven people who remain under investigation for possible
SARS infection [1,2]. The patients are from Beijing, and from Anhui province
in east China. One of the patients in Anhui province has died. The latest
patient to have been identified is a 49 year old female retired doctor. All
seven SARS cases are being treated at Ditan hospital in Beijing.
As these patients had been previously treated or assessed on open wards
at different hospitals before SARS was suspected, and two patients in Anhui
province had travelled long distances by train, there has been extensive
tracing and follow up of contacts of these cases. Nearly 1000 people are
under medical observation, including 640 in Beijing, and 353 in Anhui.
To date, all diagnosed cases, and cases under investigation, have been
linked to chains of transmission involving close personal contact with an
identified case. There is no evidence of wider transmission in the community.
A WHO team has been sent to China to help investigate the source of the
recent cases. Investigation of the source of infection will focus on biosafety
procedures at Beijing’s Institute of Virology. Further information can be
found at the WHO Communicable Disease Surveillance & Response SARS site,