Patients quarantined because of SARS were reportedly doing better Tuesday, and one promised friends: “I will try my best to recover.”
China has announced two confirmed cases and six suspected cases in recent days, all linked to a Beijing research lab where investigators suspect workers caught and spread severe acute respiratory syndrome.
The World Health Organization said it was organizing a team to find out how two workers at China’s Centers for Disease Control became infected and why their ailments weren’t monitored.
It said it was especially concerned that one worker took several long train rides while suffering SARS symptoms — putting other passengers at risk. The worker passed the disease to a nurse who treated her, doctors say.
The WHO said the team, which begins work Wednesday, includes experts in epidemiology, virology, infection control and laboratory safety.
Chinese officials reported no new cases or suspected SARS cases Tuesday, but stepped up scrutiny of pneumonia patients to make sure they don’t have SARS.
Authorities say a lab worker named Song in Beijing passed SARS to a nurse named Li. The nurse’s father, mother, aunt and roommate also are ill.
Song returned to the southeastern province of Anhui and her mother died shortly thereafter. Experts suspect SARS.
The official Xinhua News Agency said Song, 26, was in stable condition. It quoted Zhu Qixing, head of the No. 1 Hospital at Anhui University of Medical Sciences, as saying her temperature was normal and she was “no longer infectious.”
Song’s friends sent her comforting text messages by cell phone because she can’t make phone calls, Hong Kong broadcaster TVB reported. “We want to let her know that her illness isn’t that scary. The contents (of these messages) are a form of psychological therapy,” Zhang Xuejun, head of Anhui University of Medical Sciences, said in footage aired on TVB Tuesday.
According to Xinhua, Song sent Zhang a text message Monday saying, “Thanks for the care from the university authorities. I will try my best to recover.”
Li, the nurse, was in stable condition with a normal temperature for 11 successive days, Xinhua said.
Some 337 people have been quarantined in Beijing and 133 in Anhui after possibly coming into contact with cases or suspected cases, the official China Daily said Monday. On Tuesday, other state-controlled media said the number was about 600. It was unclear if the number of quarantined people had increased or if it was simply a reporting discrepancy.
WHO, citing the Chinese government, said “close to 1,000 contacts of these cases are under medical observation” but didn’t say if they were quarantined.
SARS triggered a global health crisis last year, killing 774 people worldwide and infecting more than 8,000 before subsiding in July.