Beijing, May 12 (Reuters): China reported fewer than 100 new SARS cases today for the third straight day, raising hopes that it might finally be taming the killer virus, but the UN health agency said it was too early to say the worst was over.
China, the country hardest hit by the epidemic, logged 75 fresh cases, among the smallest totals in the three weeks since it started reporting its caseload honestly. The lowest figure so far was the 69 reported yesterday.
Beijing accounted for 48 of today’s new patients. Late last week the capital was still reporting 100 to 150 cases a day.
But the World Health Organisation (WHO) said it lacked the data needed to determine whether the tide had turned in China, where more than 250 people have died from SARS and 5,000 have been infected, the bulk of the global total of more than 7,000.
“We don’t feel that we can make a real conclusion about how the epidemic is evolving,” said spokeswoman Mangai Balasegaram.
Officials also declined to let their guard drop after Premier Wen Jiabao said on a trip to the northern province of Shanxi the spread of the flu-like illness had not yet been fully controlled and still threatened China’s vast countryside.
Last week, a top Beijing health official said he did not know where about half the city’s new SARS patients caught the disease. China’s death toll continued to tick up — 12 more, taking the total to 252.