- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 6, 2003

From combined dispatchesBEIJING — Villagers angry that SARS patients were being quarantined in a government office beat up officials, broke windows and smashed furniture in China’s eastern Zhejiang province, witnesses and officials said yesterday.Also yesterday, Hong Kong researchers who discovered the virus said they were seeking a patent on the microbe. That could help them reap economic gain from diagnostic tests or medicines developed to fight the disease.At least 15 more deaths — nine in China, three in Hong Kong, two in Taiwan and one in Singapore — from severe acute respiratory syndrome were reported yesterday, raising the global toll to at least 464. About 6,300 others have been infected.World Health Organization doctors are making a rare visit to Taiwan, which does not have official ties with the U.N. agency. China, which considers Taiwan part of its territory, initially refused permission to WHO doctors but changed its mind last week.The WHO also said scientific findings indicate feces may be a more important method of spreading the virus than originally thought. Coughing and sneezing remain the chief means, but government scientists in Hong Kong have found that the virus can stay alive for at least four days in diarrhea.In Xiande, several thousand villagers began protesting during the weekend in front of a local government building where suspected SARS patients were being quarantined, said a witness, who spoke on condition of anonymity.The witness said five villagers broke into the building Sunday night, shattering windows and breaking furniture in a few offices. Three officials trying to stop the violence were injured, the witness said.Last week, protesters in a village east of Beijing ransacked a school after hearing the building was to be used as a SARS ward.Of the nine new SARS deaths reported in China, three were in Beijing, raising the mainland’s total to 206. Officials added 160 new cases, bringing the national total to 4,280.Beijing also sent police to guard 80 reservoirs around the capital, protecting the drinking water supply from contamination, the Beijing Youth Daily reported.In other SARS developments:•A 20-year-old woman who recently returned from a nine-month stay in Hong Kong was considered to have the first probable case of SARS in Colombia, an official in Bogota said yesterday.•Life in Toronto was returning to normal after the WHO lifted its advisory warning travelers to avoid the city. Thousands of Canadians have visited Toronto over the past few days, lured by absurdly low plane fares — only a penny or two per flight in some cases. Toronto’s biggest convention of the year, a meeting of 23,000 librarians from across North America, almost was canceled because of SARS, but officials announced it would be held as planned next month.•Kazakhstan said yesterday it would close its border with China within three days in a bid to keep the deadly virus from affecting the Central Asian state.•The University of California at Berkeley said Friday it will turn away new students from SARS-infected China, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong this summer in what is believed to be the first such move by a major U.S. university to prevent the spread of the illness. Instead, those students will have their money returned.



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