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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 January, 2004, 11:18 GMT
China confines new Sars suspect
Chinese health enforcement officers
Animals are being slaughtered in Guangdong
A second suspected case of Sars has been identified in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong.

A 20-year-old waitress has been admitted to hospital and isolated, the state news agency Xinhua reported.

The news came as the country's first Sars patient in six months left hospital after making a full recovery from the potentially fatal virus.

In Hong Kong, two TV journalists who fell ill after visiting the same hospital have tested negative for Sars.

Results on a third journalist were still pending.

The three had also visited a wild animal market while preparing a report on the illness.

Mass slaughter

The Chinese waitress suspected of having the disease reportedly worked in a restaurant serving wild game in the southern city of Guangzhou.

She has been in hospital since 31 December while 48 people close to her have been placed under quarantine.

CIVET CAT
Civet in Tokyo's Ueno Zoo
Part of mongoose family, distant relative of feline cat
Weasel-like face, cat-like body
Served in wild game restaurants
Estimated 10,000 in Guangdong markets
May have been the source of the virus which jumped to humans

Scientists believe the virus that causes Sars may have jumped from animals to humans but it is still unclear which animals might be carrying it and how it might have leapt the species barrier.

It is not yet known how the first Guangdong patient, who has been identified only as "Mr Luo", contracted the virus.

Tests had shown his virus was similar to one found in civets, prompting the government's decision to slaughter about 10,000 of the animals.

But in his first interview since being diagnosed with the disease, the 32-year-old man said he had never even seen a civet cat, let alone eaten one.

However he did say that he had caught a baby mouse in the bath tub using a pair of chopsticks.

The authorities in Guangdong now say that they will launch a rat extermination campaign after they have finished killing the civets.

The new cases mark a return of the Sars virus which broke out in China and caused a global health crisis last year.

It killed around 800 people and infected about 8,000.

Sensitivity

After an initial attempt to cover up the Sars outbreak when it first hit China in November 2002, the Chinese Government was later credited with a new openness about the virus as it recognised the need to educate the public to stop it spreading.

However, the editor-in-chief of the newspaper which first broke the case of Mr Luo, the Southern Metropolitan Daily, is reported to have been questioned by prosecutors.

Cheng Yizhong, contacted by the Associated Press, said it was difficult for him to speak to them but did say he thought the issue was now "resolved".

The Hong Kong-based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy said Mr Cheng was detained by authorities in Guangzhou for eight hours on Tuesday.

The same paper came under political pressure last year when it reported the beating to death of a young man in police custody. The case later led to a government review of detention procedures for migrants.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Louisa Lim
"More cases could emerge over the coming days"



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