Mainland health official says evidence is not conclusive It is too early to ban civet cats from the dining table, according to a top mainland health official. Vice-Minister of Health Wang Longde said yesterday there was no scientific evidence showing that the Sars virus came from the animal, 'so it is too early to say whether it should be banned'. Dr Wang was speaking to reporters at after the opening of the 54th session of the World Health Organisation's (WHO) regional committee for the Western Pacific. Nearly 200 delegates are attending the meeting, including 16 health ministers and representatives from 37 countries and regions. The five-day session, opened by director-general Lee Jong-wook, the first Korean to head a major United Nations agency, will review the past five years' work and plan for the next half-decade in tackling Sars and emerging infections, HIV/Aids, tuberculosis, tobacco control and child health. Dr Wang said China was adopting measures to tackle Sars, which could re-emerge in the winter. 'These measures include requiring all medical and health institutions to report all suspected cases of Sars using the computer and internet,' he said. In May, University of Hong Kong (HKU) scientists said they found a similar virus to the Sars coronavirus, which was causing the human disease, in civet cats at Guangdong's wet markets. Trading in civets and other wild animals was banned, but this was lifted last month. Last Thursday, in an article in Science magazine's online edition, a University of Hong Kong team working with the Department of Health's virus unit and the Guangdong Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, gave fresh evidence linking the Sars coronavirus to the civets in Guangdong's wet markets. The team found a coronavirus in civet cats and a raccoon dog that was 99.8 per cent genetically identical to the Sars virus in humans, suggesting that the virus jumped from animals to humans. But on Friday, the scientists stopped short of calling for a complete ban on wild-animal trading, saying their findings did not confirm that the coronavirus found in civets directly caused the Sars global outbreak, which infected 8,422 people - killing 916 of them - in 32 countries and regions. Meanwhile, 30 per cent of people treated in Guangzhou for Sars did not have the virus, but were suffering from pneumonia, a study has found. The study covered 700 of the 1,270 patients who recovered after being treated for Sars. The most obvious symptom of Sars - and of pneumonia and flu - is high fever, so making a correct diagnosis was difficult, Zhong Nanshan, director of the Guangzhou Institute of Respiratory Diseases, told the Southern Metropolis News. He said the findings underlined the importance of people getting flu vaccines, since this would make diagnosis easier. Guangzhou has ordered students and teachers to be vaccinated against flu.