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WHO Team Arrives in China to Examine Suspected SARS Patient - 2003-12-29

A team from the World Health Organization has arrived in Beijing to help China determine if a 32-year-old man has the country's first new case of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome since July.

WHO and Chinese ministry of health officials plan to go to southern Guangdong province to supervise testing of the patient, who was hospitalized December 20. The government says it will take several days to confirm whether the man has SARS.

Meanwhile, officials say none of the 42 people who had close contact with the patient has developed symptoms of the deadly virus. The China Daily newspaper says the group, which includes 32 health workers, has been quarantined since the patient was hospitalized.

He is the first suspected SARS case in China since the World Health Organization declared the outbreak over in July. On Sunday, Beijing launched a nationwide alert for a possible new outbreak of the deadly respiratory virus.

The SARS epidemic originated in Guangdong province a year ago and later spread to Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Canada and several other places. At least 774 people died from the virus around the world.

Meanwhile, officials in Taiwan say the island's first new SARS patient in five months has recovered and is likely to go home from the hospital Tuesday.

The patient - a 44-year-old military scientist - is said to have suffered some lung damage. Officials say they think he got SARS by mishandling contaminated trash in his military laboratory.