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W.H.O. Official Met with China to Clarify SARS Reporting - 2003-06-11


The World Health Organization's leading infectious disease expert has held talks with Chinese health officials in an effort to clear up questions about China's reporting on Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome cases. Brian Purchia has more.

Last week the W.H.O.’s executive director for infectious diseases, Dr. David Heymann, had expressed concerns about how China is reporting data on the potentially deadly disease. He is in Beijing to meet with Chinese health officials and W.H.O. experts.

DR. DAVID HEYMANN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR FOR COMMUNICABLE DISEASES, W.H.O.
“To talk with the government about the SARS situation, to congratulate the government on the excellent work that they've done and to get some answers to a few questions that we have."

SARS has claimed at least 790 lives and sickened more than 8,400 people worldwide in the past seven months.

Dr. Heymann says three criteria are being looked at in deciding whether to lift the travel ban in Beijing.

DR. DAVID HEYMANN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR FOR COMMUNICABLE DISEASES, W.H.O.
“The magnitude of the outbreak and the number of new cases occurring each day, the type of transmission which is occurring in the community, and whether or not there are exported cases from the country."

Mainland China has been hit hardest by the spread of SARS, but for more than two weeks China has reported fewer than 10 new cases a day. One new case was reported Wednesday, and no new deaths.

The government-run Xinhua news agency said Dr. Heymann told a senior Chinese health official that he will file a favorable report with the W.H.O. about China's work in preventing and treating SARS.

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