China Raises SARS Death Toll to 60

AP Wire Service

BEIJING – China raised its death toll from a mysterious new respiratory disease to 60 on Saturday and reported the first two fatalities in its northern Inner Mongolia region.

The two deaths Friday were among 10 cases of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, in Inner Mongolia, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

The infected patients, all in the regional capital of Hohot, contracted the illness in undisclosed locations outside the region and brought it back into the area, Xinhua said.

China has reported 45 deaths in the southern province of Guangdong, where the disease is suspected to have begun. Officials say Guangdong had the world’s first known case in November.

Deaths have also have been reported in Beijing, the Guangxi region in the south and the provinces of Shanxi in the north, Sichuan in the west and Hunan in central China.

A team of World Health Organization experts is in Beijing looking at how the capital’s health system is handling SARS. WHO said this week that Beijing health authorities were failing to trace people exposed to those infected, allowing the disease to spread.

Separately, a Malaysian-owned luxury cruiseliner with 13 crew quarantined on board for observation for SARS has been moved away from Singapore to an island south of the city-state, officials said Saturday. No passengers were on board the ship, the SuperStar Virgo owned by Star Cruises.

The vessel was being disinfected, said Lim Lily, a spokeswoman for Star Cruises.