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PacNet #2 – Can Authoritarian Regimes Still Quarantine the News?

On Jan. 10, 2004, World Health Organization (WHO) investigators examined a restaurant in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, China, as a possible source of transmission of SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome). A waitress from this restaurant who may have the SARS virus served dishes of civets, the cat-like mammal which is a suspected SARS carrier. On Jan. 4 Chinese authorities had ordered the slaughter of thousands of civets, related to the mongoose, for fear of a second outbreak of SARS. The hospitalization of the Guangzhou waitress follows hard on China’s acknowledgement Dec. 27 of its first probable SARS case
since the WHO announced the end of the SARS epidemic last July. A 32-year-old television producer entered a Guangdong Province hospital Dec. 20, was moved to a quarantine ward two days later, and was tentatively diagnosed with SARS on the 24th. It is now certain that he contracted SARS, but recovered and was released from the hospital Jan. 1. More recent reports from Hong Kong indicate suspected third and fourth SARS cases in Guangdong Province.