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The strain of mystery pneumonia that has sickened hundreds in southern China since November "seems amenable to treatment," the World Health Organization said Monday. It said the Chinese government has requested help from WHO to investigate the malady.

While recommending calm, WHO officials called the mystery pneumonia in China "a new disease."

Investigators suspect a virus is involved, because victims do not seem to respond well to standard antibiotics, which kill only bacteria, and because their white blood counts drop. That typically happens with viral infections but not bacterial ones.

At the same time, Hank Bekedam, another WHO representative in Beijing, said the number of cases reported by the Chinese government is unchanged since mid-February — 305 sickened and five dead in southern China's Guangdong province, which abuts Hong Kong.

>So far, the disease has killed nine people — seven in Asia and two in North America. Its rapid spread, and the discovery of two clusters in Canada, caused a rare worldwide health alert to be issued on Saturday

r>In Europe, https://www.mfclfnb4v.online two people were hospitalized in Paris with suspicious respiratory problems after returning from trips to Asia. Doctors were conducting tests Monday to see if the cases are linked to the outbreak

r>A Chinese Health Ministry report released by WHO said "antibiotics did not have an obvious effect" on patients in Guangdong province. But, the report said, "the patients are being cured one by one.

r>It gave no further details

r>Chinese health officials said last month that the outbreak was under control, and a spokeswoman for the city government in Guangzhou, the provincial capital of Guangdong, said Monday that the numbers of those dead and ill haven't changed

r>"All we can tell you right now is that the disease situation here has been placed well under control," said the spokeswoman. She would give only her surname, Ye

r>The Health Ministry would not immediately respond to questions about the outbreak. Yang Weizhong, an official of the Beijing office of the U.S. government's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said there have been no reports of cases elsewhere in China

r>Chinese officials have unsuccessfully tried to determine the cause of the illness for several months. On March 10 — five months after the initial outbreak in Guangdong — China requested help from the WHO. Four virologists are scheduled to come to China "soon," Bekedam sa


Experts discounted the possibility that terrorism was the source and believed it almost certainly was a contagious infection that spreads most easily from victims to their doctors, nurses and families through coughing, sneezing and other contact with nasal flui


"Nothing about that pattern suggests bioterrorism," said Dr. Julie Gerberding, head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlan


"It shows one should prepare plans and not think communicable diseases are a thing of the past," said Alan Schnur, team leader of communicable disease control for WHO in Beijing. "Part of the shock here is that people are accustomed to communicable diseases being things that are easily treatabl


Schnur said the Geneva-based organization's unusual warning last week was issued because of how fast the malady seemed to be traveling and "the global nature" of the probl


"We are dealing with a new communicable disease where we don't know the cause," Schnur said at a news conference Monday. But, he said, "It seems amenable to treatment from available data so fa


He added: "There's sort of the same shock and concern now as when AIDS was first developed. Here was a new communicable disease that we didn't know the cause, we didn't know how to treat it. Now again we have a new disease that we don't know the cause yet. We are still searching how to treat i


WHO said Saturday that 150 new suspected cases had been reported over the past week. It said new cases came from Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thaila


Earlier Monday, officials in Guangzhou said travelers arriving by plane had been covering their faces with scarves and surgical masks in hopes of avoiding the sickne


"We have seen some passengers arriving wearing face masks," said a spokeswoman for the Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport in Guangzhou. "Most are from Taiwan. Some are also getting off the plane and simply covering their mouths with scarve


Taiwanese officials recommended Sunday that the island's people avoid making nonessential visits to Chi


Authorities are trying to determine whether three Taiwanese hospitalized with flu-like symptoms contracted a related illne


The mystery illness has been dubbed SARS — Sudden Acute Respiratory Syndrome. The symptoms include high fever, coughing or shortness of breath, muscle fatigue, confusion, loss of appetite, rash and heada

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Responding to reports that a doctor had passed through New York for a conference before being quarantined in Frankfurt, Germany, with SARS-like symptoms, the New York City Department of Health said that it had determined "that with the exception of two family members traveling with him, he had minimal contact with other people during the two days he was in New York City" and was only at the conference for a few hours."

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