Thu, May 29, 2003 - Page 1 News List

China goes after wildlife trade in effort to wipe out SARS

AFP , HONG KONG

China launched a blitz against wildlife trade in an effort to prevent a resurgence of SARS yesterday as Canadian authorities stiffened hospital controls after paying the price for dropping their guard.

The moves came as health authorities across SARS-hit Asia began analyzing ways to prevent future epidemics with the battle to control the virus apparently nearing its endgame.

Thousands of animals have been seized at markets and ports of entry into China's Guangdong Province as authorities sought to stamp out the source of SARS.

Notorious animal markets in Guangdong, widely believed to be ground zero for the pneumonia-like disease, have been under scrutiny since SARS was linked to beasts including civets and racoon dogs, considered delicacies in China.

The crackdown follows the World Health Organization's (WHO) decision to lift a travel advisory to Guangdong and Hong Kong as rates of infection from the virus plummeted.

China's government is now trying to curb potentially unhealthy practices, aware of the dangers of a resurgence in SARS or similar infections.

In Toronto Canadian health authorities were attempting to limit the damage after a fresh cluster of SARS cases emerged days after the city had toasted victory over the disease which has claimed some 700 lives around the world.

The city, which was put back on the WHO's list of SARS-affected areas Monday, has had 12 probable and 23 suspected cases since a new outbreak started last Thursday.

Thousands of people have been quarantined as a probe was underway to find out how one man was allowed to pass on the virus unchecked.

Hospitals in Toronto and the surrounding province of Ontario have now ramped up SARS prevention measures, such as ordering staff to wear double gloves, gowns and a mask.

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