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China Reports Suspected Case of SARS

April 22, 2004

BEIJING (AP) _ China’s government reported a suspected case of SARS in Beijing on Thursday, the first such report in the capital since the country’s initial outbreak of the highly contagious disease diminished last summer.

The brief report, by the government’s Xinhua News Agency, cited the Health Ministry but gave no details.

SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, triggered a global health crisis last year that killed 774 people _ 349 of them on mainland China. More than 8,000 fell ill internationally.

The disease first emerged in southern China in late 2002 but largely disappeared in July.

While China reported four SARS cases in its southern province of Guangdong in December and January, all four patients recovered.

When the SARS outbreak was at its peak, Beijing was among the hardest-hit cities in the world. Cinemas and restaurants were ordered to close to prevent crowding that might spread the virus.

The disease also depressed tourism throughout Asia.

The World Health Organization said Thursday it was working closely with Chinese health authorities. ``We have been informed of what the Ministry of Health terms one suspect case, and we’re awaiting more information,″ said Bob Dietz, a WHO spokesman in Beijing.

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