China will not change criteria for diagnosing SARS virus

BEIJING: China would not change criteria for diagnosing SARS, a health official said yesterday, despite the WHO saying confused Chinese doctors were under-reporting cases of the deadly flu-like virus by excluding some mild ones. 

“Our diagnostic criteria are in line with the WHO's. There is no loophole,” said a Health Ministry official who asked not to be named. 

The World Health Organisation said on Saturday Chinese doctors were excluding some cases because patients had no known contact with a SARS victim or because they had mild symptoms that cleared up quickly. 

SPREADING THE MESSAGE: Schoolchildren gathering to form the word 'SARS" during a campaign to get residents more involved in the fight against the disease in nanjing yesterday - AFPpic

The official said it was possible some patients were wrongly diagnosed as not having Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. 

“For any disease, there is the possibility,” he said. 

“Some suspected cases are ruled out later if the patients get better in a few days and are found SARS-free after joint diagnosis by a medical panel. The diagnosis is very strict and reliable.  

“The patients then go home, but are put under surveillance for one to two weeks and their temperatures taken every day. People are free to make judgements. Our own understanding of the disease is also changing.  

“But if there were to be a change in our criteria, more patients would need to be isolated or treated, which could cause more public panic,” the official said. – Reuters  

  • Another perspective from The China Daily, a partner of Asia News Network. 

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