Archive for Friday, January 9, 2004

SARS-wary China fights disease-spreading pests

January 9, 2004

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— SARS-wary southern China mobilized a mass cleanup effort Thursday, sweeping streets, slaughtering more civets and targeting the "four dangers" -- rats, roaches, flies and mosquitoes -- in its attack on creatures it suspects of carrying the virus.

City officials clean a street at a market as they launch a
crackdown on rats in Guangzhou, China. Chinese authorities'
reaction to a confirmed SARS case has been fierce, ordering the
culling of 10,000 civet cats and a citywide rat extermination
campaign.

City officials clean a street at a market as they launch a crackdown on rats in Guangzhou, China. Chinese authorities' reaction to a confirmed SARS case has been fierce, ordering the culling of 10,000 civet cats and a citywide rat extermination campaign.

The push toward a more pristine Guangdong province came the same day the country's first SARS patient of the season was released from the hospital -- and, minutes later, a waitress in the provincial capital of Guangzhou was pegged as the second suspected case.

Thursday's main cleanup took place at Guangzhou's upscale Dongshan Market, where well-heeled consumers can choose from among 20 types of rice and 30 varieties of soy sauce.

Hundreds of residents took up brooms in already tidy streets as brigades of government journalists snapped photos. But where the masses once swept in unison, the modern-day workers had to pause every time their cell phones rang.

"Everybody work together. Do more to improve hygiene. Exterminate the four dangers. Lift the level of public health," proclaim 1950s-style slogans on red banners around town. They seem especially incongruent in today's Guangzhou, one of China's most modern cities.

Authorities said Thursday that a waitress in Guangzhou could be China's second SARS patient since the disease was pronounced under control in July. The announcement came just as the first patient -- also in Guangzhou -- was pronounced recovered and allowed to go home after three weeks in the hospital.

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