- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 8, 2003

From combined dispatchesBEIJING —The worst-hit district of China’s capital sent thousands of investigators on a hunt for victims of the SARS epidemic yesterday while the World Health Organization said the outbreak has yet to peak in the world’s most populous nation.The army of investigators was the latest sign of China’s desperate fight to contain Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, a disease that has triggered riots by villagers furious that people from infected areas have been put among them.Motorola Inc., the world’s second-biggest mobile-phone maker and one of the biggest foreign investors in China, meanwhile, closed its Beijing headquarters until Monday after a staff member there caught the disease.”We have not seen a peak in China yet. We still have a considerable size of outbreak in Hong Kong,” U.N. health chief Gro Harlem Brundtland said in Brussels, adding that it was too early to say whether the outbreak is receding worldwide.Ms. Brundtland met European Union Health Commissioner David Byrne before an emergency meeting of EU health ministers yesterday to discuss how to prevent SARS from spreading to Europe.The ministers agreed to back administrative screening of travelers on arrival from infected countries. Screening methods could include questionnaires distributed to passengers. Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao said Monday that the crisis is “grave,” with the disease striking hardest in Beijing where 1,960 cases have been confirmed.China’s Health Ministry announced 138 new cases of SARS yesterday and reported eight more deaths, taking the toll to 214.On Monday night U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson said he had a lengthy and “cooperative” teleconference with Chinese Vice Prime Minister and Health Minister Wu Yi. They discussed how their health departments could collaborate on SARS, and U.S. officials asked China for medical evidence from animals, birds and SARS victims, Mr. Thompson told reporters yesterday.In Haidian, the Beijing district with the most SARS cases, 30,000 investigators inspected businesses, neighborhoods and work sites.Households in the district of 2.2 million people have been given a thermometer and emergency contact numbers. Offices and businesses must install temperature-monitoring systems.The flulike disease has infected 4,409 persons across China. Half the deaths, 107 out of 214, have occurred in Beijing.Nearly 7,000 people have been infected worldwide.Hong Kong said yesterday that the virus had killed six more persons and infected another nine. The death toll there is 193.•Staff writer Cheryl Wetzstein in Washington contributed to this article

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