Two more people are suspected of contracting the respiratory illness, including the now-dead mother of one of the SARS patients.
The researcher, a 26-year-old woman who had been working at the China Center for Disease Control in Beijing, entered Jiangong Hospital on March 29 for treatment of pneumonia. Her mother began visiting her on March 31. Tests are still being conducted to determine the cause of the mother's death. The nurse who has SARS, a 20-year-old woman, developed symptoms on April 5.
A 31-year-old male researcher at the Center for Disease Control is the second new suspected case, prompting authorities to close the facility, except to specialists sent to investigate, the ministry said in a statement on its Web site.
The latest cases of severe acute respiratory syndrome are China's fifth and sixth this year. The other SARS patients, in the country's southern province of Guangdong, bordering Hong Kong, contracted the virus in January and February. All have recovered and been discharged from hospitals, report bloomberg.com
According to rediff.com severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome spread from the Chinese province of Guangdong in late 2002 to more than 30 nations, infecting at least 10,000 people and killing nearly 800.
Addressing journalists after a meeting of regional health ministers in Penang, Malaysia, China's Vice Minister of Health Zhu Qinsheng said one patient was a 20-year-old Beijing nurse and the other a 26-year-old woman in Hefei, capital of the eastern province of Anhui. Both are being treated in isolation wards.
"We learned from the experience of last year's SARS outbreak and this time we will do our best and immediately alert the public. We are prepared. We are confident that SARS will not spread like it did in the past," he said.
Officials said Ditan hospital in Beijing was well equipped to handle the cases and several wards had been sterilized and assigned for other possible patients. These include 171 people who had close contact with the Beijing nurse, five of whom have symptoms of the disease.