Beijing closes down anti-SARS headquarters

The Chinese capital Beijing issued a notice Tuesday to close down the SARS prevention headquarters and stop implementing emergency control measures as of June 1. In a similar move, the Chinese Ministry of Public Health also announced the suspension of daily surveillance reports on the SARS epidemic from June 1, saying that the latest outbreak had been effectively put under control.

The anti-SARS headquarters, a joint working team responsible for the epidemic control and prevention, was established on April 22 when Beijing reported its first SARS case of 2004.

The notice said the decision was made following the discharge of all seven SARS patients on recovery in the city and the removal from isolation of those having close contact with those patients.

The SARS control and prevention work will be handled in a regular way after the removal of the anti-SARS headquarters, according to the notice.

Meanwhile, the “zero report” mechanism, which required local health authorities nationwide to deliver a daily SARS report even if no cases were found, was also suspended by the Ministry of Health.

The surveillance and reports on SARS will be continued in a regular way through a nationwide computer network system in which all legally-reported communicable diseases are monitored, a spokesman for the ministry said.

China reported a total of nine SARS cases, seven in Beijing and two in eastern Anhui Province, in 2004. On April 22, China discharged its last SARS patient, a 49-year-old retired doctor surnamed Zhang, from Beijing’s Ditan Hospital, ending the most recent outbreak of the epidemic in the country.

During this outbreak, Beijing’s seven SARS patients all recovered from the disease, but one patient died in Anhui and the other recovered.

No confirmed or suspected SARS cases have been reported since April 22 on the Chinese mainland.

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