Skip to comments.Official: Mystery Pneumonia in Southern China Killed 31 by End of February
Posted on 03/26/2003 5:11:16 AM PST by ex-Texan
Official: Mystery Pneumonia in Southern China Killed 31 by End of February
BEIJING (AP) - A mysterious form of pneumonia has killed 31 people in China's southern province of Guangdong through the end of February, a local government spokeswoman said Wednesday.
Health experts say it isn't clear whether the deaths are linked to severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, a fatal respiratory illness that has spread to three continents.
In Guangdong, 24 people died in the provincial capital of Guangzhou and seven were elsewhere in the province, said the spokeswoman for the Guangzhou city government. She would give only her surname, Ye.
By the end of February, there were 792 cases of infection reported throughout the whole province, Ye said. She said 680 of those cases were in Guangzhou and the remainder were in six other cities in Guangdong.
The spokeswoman wouldn't give details on when the deaths occurred.
Until Wednesday, Chinese authorities had confirmed five deaths and 305 people sickened since November - a figure they had stuck to since the middle of last month. It wasn't clear why they waited until now to confirm the additional deaths - or if the new figure included the five original deaths.
The World Health Organization has appealed to China for better cooperation in tracking the illness.
WHO says it is particularly concerned about the spread of SARS in Hong Kong, where many residents were going around town wearing surgical masks in hopes of avoiding infection.
SARS has killed 10 people in Hong Kong out of 17 fatalities worldwide, according to WHO figures.
The Geneva-based organization has sent a team to China to investigate a suspected link to an outbreak of atypical pneumonia in November in Guangdong.