Shanxi fears the worst, but so far no new cases

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 29 March, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 29 March, 2003, 12:00am

Residents in Shanxi are living in fear but authorities say just four people from the province have contracted atypical pneumonia.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan revealed the four cases on Thursday, raising concerns that the virus is spreading to inland provinces.

Earlier, officials said the disease had been found only in Guangdong province and Beijing. Shanghai says it has no cases.

A spokesman for the Shanxi Communist Party Committee yesterday said the province had no new cases apart from the four reported earlier this week.

'A woman contracted the disease during the Spring Festival Holidays when she was doing business in Guangzhou,' said the spokesman. 'The woman and other family members went to Beijing for treatment and they were sent back later. They were then put under quarantine and the disease had not spread.'

He said all four had recovered and the province was clear of the disease. A report by the World Health Organisation said of the four, two were health workers.

When asked if any new cases had been found in Shanxi, an official with Shanxi Health Bureau said yesterday: 'I am afraid I cannot comment on this, this is strictly confidential.'

Major hospitals such as Shanxi People's Hospital declined to say whether they had received any virus patients. However, some medical staff reported that the public was worried.

'The whole of Shanxi has heard about atypical pneumonia. Some people are queuing up to buy masks and medicine,' one nurse said.

One migrant worker said: 'Atypical pneumonia? Of course we have heard about it. People on the streets have been talking about it but I don't know if anyone has fallen sick.'