| Two children watch a man lying on the ground after he fainted in Taipei on Friday. (AFP)
Beijing, May 9 (Reuters): The World Health Organisation took its SARS probe into rural China, where the health care system is in a shambles, as reports emerged today of more attacks on quarantine sites in the country by people scared of the disease.
A team of four WHO experts investigated hospitals and an epidemic prevention station in a rural area of Hebei province, 120 km south of Beijing, the Xinhua news agency said.
Although the government focus was shifting to the countryside where most Chinese live, WHO director general nominee Jong-Wook Lee said after meeting foreign minister Li Zhaoxing and health chief Wu Yi that the cities were still the pressing concern .
Beijing, the worst hit city in the world, reported an additional 48 cases and two deaths today, its lowest daily increase since before April 20 when the number of cases shot to 339 from 37 and the mayor and health minister were sacked for covering up the outbreak. In all of mainland China, there were 118 new cases and six deaths today.
There was also better news from hard-hit Hong Kong, which announced only six new infections today, the lowest one-day rise since the outbreak began and the sixth straight day of single digit numbers.
Mongolia declared its small SARS outbreak under control and lifted a four-week ban on public meetings.
But Taiwan reported 18 new cases today — its biggest single-day rise in the past two weeks — and quarantined almost 500 people in a Taipei public housing project.
WHO experts say China is key to containing the global spread of the flu-like virus, which has now killed 514 people and infected 7,362.
About 60 people protested in Beijing today against plans to set up a fever station at a hospital in their neighbourhood, the first known SARS demonstration in the capital.
“We are worried that SARS could spread here because our residence is right next door to this hospital. “We can’t open our windows for fear we will get infected,” said an elderly woman who declined to give her name.