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SARS Officials Ban Consumption of Wild Animals in China - 2003-06-04

For the first time since April, Chinese health officials are reporting no deaths or cases of SARS, severe acute respiratory syndrome. The Chinese health ministry says it’s the second time in three days there were no new cases, and the ninth consecutive day with fewer than 10 new SARS cases. But there’s still some question about china’s candor on this matter, as Steve Baragona reports.

Life appears to be returning to normal in China now, after a months-long struggle with SARS.

The disease has hit China the hardest of any country, with more than 5,000 cases and more than 330 deaths so far.

But the World Health Organization has expressed doubts about China's figures.

The W.H.O. says it does not know how China is counting its cases.

Officials are skeptical because Chinese officials had initially covered up the extent of the SARS epidemic there.

But China is trying to minimize the spread of SARS by cracking down on the sale of animals suspected of carrying the disease.

Civet cats and other wild animals are delicacies in Chinese cuisine. But tests have shown they can carry the virus that causes SARS.

As a precaution, Chinese officials have banned the sale and consumption of wild animals. Police have searched restaurants and markets for illegal wild animals.

Other endangered and protected species destined for the dinner table have been confiscated.