Guangzhou doctors wanted to know the cause of dying man's illness, inquiry told Three mainland doctors made an anxious visit to a dying colleague who triggered the Sars outbreak two days after he was taken to hospital with the then mystery disease, a Legco inquiry heard yesterday. They were eager to know if doctors at Kwong Wah Hospital had identified the source of Liu Jianlun's illness, the select committee investigating the handling of the outbreak was told. Watt Chi-leung, director of intensive care at Kwong Wah, said the three senior doctors from Zhongshan University No1 Hospital in Guangzhou arrived at 6 pm on February 24. Liu, a medical professor from the university's No2 hospital, had complained of a fever and shortness of breath several days earlier. He had travelled to Hong Kong to attend a wedding and infected 13 other people at the Metropole Hospital in Mongkok where he had been staying. Liu, 64, died in Hong Kong on March 4. At the time, hundreds of people in southern China were sick with an atypical pneumonia, later identified as Sars, which has killed 774 people worldwide, 299 of them in Hong Kong. Dr Watt told the Legco inquiry he arranged for the three mainland doctors to discuss Liu's condition with a senior physician. The trio did not personally check Liu's condition and observed him from behind a glass window. 'They told us they did not know what caused the disease and they kept asking us about our findings,' he said.'They were very anxious to find out whether we had identified the virus which caused the disease. They collected a photocopy of our medical report on the patient and left the hospital. We were unable to find them afterwards,' Dr Watt said. He said the hospital had kept no official record of the visit, but believed one of the doctors was the head of Zhongshan University No1 Hospital. Dr Watt said he was on the alert after learning Liu had come from Guangzhou, because of the pneumonia outbreak there. Liu was treated in isolation at the intensive care unit to control the spread of the mystery virus and his family was advised not to visit him to avoid possible infection, Dr Watt added. 'The major reason [for taking high levels of precautions] was because the patient came from Guangzhou. I might not have done the same if he were not from Guangzhou,' he added. The select committee hearing resumes on Saturday.