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SARS Claiming More Victims in China

China's Health Ministry says the number of SARS deaths and infections has risen in the country, killing a foreigner for the first time. Officials in Beijing say the dead Finnish man brought the illness with him from Thailand.

The Director General of China's Center for Disease Control says Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, called SARS, has infected nearly 1,250 people in China and killed more than 50.

Doctor Qi Xiaoqiu said 57 new cases were reported during the past few days, most of them in Guangdong province where the mystery disease was first reported and where it has hit hardest.

Chinese officials also reported the death of the first foreigner to die of SARS in Beijing - a 53 year-old Finnish labor expert.

Officials say the man caught the disease on a flight from Thailand to Beijing, but a foreign SARS expert says it would be difficult to figure out so quickly how they man was infected.

Medical experts have criticized China for its failure to warn the rest of the world about SARS. About 90-people have died worldwide from the illness, and another 25-hundred are sick.

Despite serious measures to control the disease, the number of infections continues to climb in China and Hong Kong, where several more deaths were announced on Sunday.

On Friday, China issued a public apology for the way it handled early information about the epidemic.

Chinese Center for Disease Control official Li Leming, admitted there was poor communication between China's medical and mass media authorities in providing timely information about the disease.