The World Health Organization has decided to remove
Beijing from its list of SARS-infected areas and lift its
travel advisory against the city, a WHO official announced
Tuesday in Beijing.
The decision took effect
immediately, Shigeru Omi, WHO regional director for the
Western Pacific, announced at a press conference jointly
held by WHO and China's Ministry of Health.
Omi said the decision to lift the advisory was
based on consideration of factors including the number of
current SARS cases, quality of surveillance measures and the
effectiveness of prevention measures.
"WHO has decided that the travel advisory
against Beijing is lifted with immediate effect," he
said. "WHO concluded that the risk to travelers to
Beijing is now minimum."
announced that Beijing was removed from the list of areas
with recent local transmission, "because WHO concluded
that the chain of human-to-human transmission in Beijing has
It was on May 29 that
Beijing's last SARS patient was put into isolation, which
has been well beyond the 20-day period required by the WHO
to remove a location from the list of areas with recent
local transmission, Omi said.
The patient was
treated as a suspect case until June 11 when the case was
clinically confirmed as SARS, added Gao Qiang, vice-minister
of health of China.
SARS has infected 5,326
people and killed 347 on the Chinese mainland so far. In
Beijing alone, a total of 2,521 SARS cases have been
recorded, with 191 fatalities but reported no new SARS cases
for consecutive 13 days as of Tuesday.
"Today's development is a milestone for
the fight against SARS not only in China but also the world,
because from today the WHO has no more advisory against
anywhere around the world," he said.
Meanwhile, the WHO official called for
continued vigilance against the disease in spite of
excellent achievements. "Surveillance has to be
maintained for at least one year," he said.
Omi said the WHO will carry out cooperation
with China mainly in three aspects, including the study on
effective surveillance and diagnose measures, the searching
of the origin of the SARS virus and the improvement of
Chinese health-care system.
advisory was issued on the 23rd of April in order to contain
the international spread of SARS. Improvements in case
detection, infection control, and the tracing and follow-up
of contacts have indicated the disease is no longer a threat
to international travelers to Beijing.
Life order in China back to
Chinese Vice Minister of Health Gao Qiang said
that China's life order has returned to normal and it is now
safe to travel to any place in the country.
Gao told the joint press briefing that the
decision made by the WHO to lift the travel advisory on
Beijing and remove Beijing off its list of locally
transmitting area of SARS marks that China's efforts in
fighting against SARS have been recognized by the
international community and the WHO, and marks the thorough
lifting of travel advisory to any province or municipality
on the Chinese mainland.
He stressed that the
WHO decision indicates that China's efforts in fighting SARS
have achieved a significant victory, and the victory is not
The health official said that the
country vows to establish an effective epidemic reporting
system that will cover various infectious diseases.
Under that system the public health department
will timely collect, analyze and report information about
any disease that is highly infectious and poses severe
danger to human health, according to Gao
reporting system will also cover measures adopted by the
government and its requirement in controlling diseases, it
will caution the public to pay attention to self protection
whenever epidemic cases are found, he said.
said that information exchange with the World Health
Organization is a very important part of the system, which
is a very effective way in controlling epidemic diseases.
Time needed to develop anti-SARS
Gao Qiang said that time is needed to
make technical breakthroughs in developing the vaccine and
drugs for severe acute respiratory syndrome.
The vice minister said the Chinese health
authorities are greatly concerned about the tasks to
successfully produce SARS vaccine, fast diagnosed test kits
and SARS drugs, and it is a vital scientific and
technological research job that relied heavily on
scientists' continued efforts.
Gao noted that
the measures proven effective in fighting SARS should be
kept in place and the government and the people should keep
vigilant before technological breakthroughs were made to
finally defeat SARS.
Gao said that Shigeru
Omi, WHO regional director for the Western Pacific who made
the WHO's removal decision on Beijing, met with Chinese
Health Minister Wu Yi, both stressing importance of closer
international cooperation to make technological progress to
claim an eventual human victory over SARS.
Timeline of Beijing's campaign against
-- In the beginning of March, the city reports
its first SARS case.
-- April 17, six local
hospitals are designated for treating SARS cases;
-- April 21 to the end of the month, the city
sees an upheaval in the spread of the disease, with the
number of new patients ranging from 90 to 150 daily.
-- In late April, Wang Qishan takes over as
acting mayor to lead the city's anti-SARS campaign, saying
that only 3.4 percent of the city's 32,000 registered
doctors and 34,000 licensed nurses are familiar with
respiratory diseases, and the city has no respiratory
-- Beginning of May, Xiaotangshan
Hospital, the country's first SARS-only hospital is built
within a week.
-- May 7, all local SARS
patients are moved to designated hospitals.
Early May, the number of new cases falls slightly, but
remains quite high.
-- May 9, the daily
reports of new patients starts to decline markedly; the same
day, the number of local medical staff infected with SARS
also drops significantly, with the daily report of infected
medical workers down from an average of 15.81 persons to
-- May 19, the number of new cases is
seven, in single figures for the first time.
-- June 2, the city reports three
"zeros" for the first time: no reports of
newly-confirmed outpatients, no newly-confirmed inpatients,
and no new SARS deaths.
-- June 6 and 8, two
more local hospitals are designated SARS hospitals,
including the prestigious Sino-Japanese Friendship Hospital.
-- June 23, Beijing has just 46 confirmed SARS
inpatients, while the city has had no reported
newly-confirmed patients for 12days in succession.
Local experts attribute the successful control
of SARS to the city's timely measures and efforts, including
the opening of special clinics for fever patients,
protection of medical staff, organization of a 2,500-strong
team to investigate the spread of SARS, setting-up of
quarantine areas to cut off sources of the disease, and
mobilization of local communities to fight SARS.