Apr 30, 2004 (CIDRAP News) Chinese authorities have confirmed that a woman who died Apr 19 had SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), marking her as the world's first victim of the disease this year.
The woman, surnamed Wei, was the mother of the 26-year-old medical student from Anhui province who was the first to fall ill in the outbreak, according to Xinhua, the Chinese government news service. The confirmation of Wei's case raises the number of confirmed cases in the outbreak to five. Four other cases remain in the suspected category.
Wei's case was confirmed yesterday on the basis of laboratory tests and her history, Xinhua reported today. The Associated Press (AP) listed her age as 53.
Wei's daughter, surnamed Song, has had a normal temperature for the past week and is recovering, Xinhua said. Another confirmed case-patient, a 20-year-old nurse surnamed Li, has had a normal temperature for 2 weeks and is in stable condition, the agency said.
Yesterday Chinese officials confirmed what had been suspected SARS cases in Li's mother and aunt. Li's mother is now in "relatively stable condition" with a normal temperature, but her aunt is in critical condition, Xinhua said today.
Li's mother is 44 and the aunt is 36, according to a World Health Organization (WHO) statement issued yesterday. Li became ill after caring for Song in a Beijing hospital early in April. Li was hospitalized Apr 7 and was visited by her mother and aunt Apr 8, the WHO said.
The WHO described Li's mother and aunt as "part of a third generation of cases that includes the nurse's [Li's] father and two other patients hospitalized on the same ward, including one patient who shared a room with the nurse."
Seven of the eight suspected and confirmed case-patients were being treated in isolation in Beijing's Ditan Hospital as of yesterday, the WHO said. Xinhua said that 43 contacts of the patients in Beijing and 39 people who had contact with Song have been released from medical observation.
Previous reports said a total of about 1,000 people, most of them in Beijing, had been quarantined and under observation.
The AP reported today that Chinese travelers were being checked for fever before being allowed to board trains and planes on the eve of the weeklong May Day holiday.
All the current SARS cases are believed to be linked to a laboratory at the National Institute of Virology in Beijing, where SARS research was done and where Song worked for 2 weeks in March. In addition to Song, a 31-year-old man who worked at the lab has suspected SARS.
Apr 29 WHO statement