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China SARS numbers pass 5,000

Taiwan reports record jump in infections

Health workers spray disinfectant on each other after being in contact with two possible SARS cases outside a Beijing train station.
Health workers spray disinfectant on each other after being in contact with two possible SARS cases outside a Beijing train station.

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Beijing, China (CNN) -- The number of SARS cases in China passed 5,000 Monday as health officials reported 75 new cases of the illness.

Also reported were 12 new deaths, bringing the national death toll to 252, according to China's Ministry of Health.

Although the tally of cases continues to rise, the health ministry said the number of new SARS cases on the Chinese mainland remained below 100 for a third straight day.

Meanwhile, Taiwan reported a record jump of SARS infections Monday. Taiwan officials confirmed eight more deaths and 23 infections, the highest one-day rise for the area since the outbreak two months ago. The total SARS cases on the island stands at 207, with 27 deaths.

Officials are also concerned severe acute respiratory syndrome could work its way rapidly through rural China, where poorly funded health care facilities would be overwhelmed by an explosion of cases.

A delegation from the World Health Organization focused on China's countryside as it visited Guizhou province.

Guizhou borders on the far southern province of Guangdong where SARS is widely believed to have started. The agency wants to examine health care in Guizhou because thousands of migrant workers returning home from Guangdong could potentially spread the SARS virus.

Globally, SARS has taken the lives of at least 550 people and infected more than 7,400, according to WHO.

Over the weekend, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao toured Shanxi province, an area of northern China where SARS has been spreading over the past two weeks, and urged officials not to lower their vigilance against the SARS epidemic.

Last week, the WHO extended its travel advisory on regions affected by the SARS virus to include Taipei, Taiwan, and two provinces of mainland China, Tianjin and Inner Mongolia.

This was added to existing recommendations that travelers avoid Beijing, Guangdong and Shanxi provinces as well as Hong Kong.

CNN Correspondent Lisa Rose Weaver contributed to this report.

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