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China admits first 2004 SARS death


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BEIJING, China (CNN) -- China's Ministry of Health has confirmed a woman who died last week in Anhui province had SARS -- the first death from the illness this year.

The confirmation brings the total number of confirmed SARS cases in China to five -- two in Anhui, three in Beijing -- with four suspected cases in the capital.

The 53-year-old woman, with the surname Wei, contracted the illness from her daughter -- the second confirmed Anhui case. The daughter is a Beijing lab worker and is in a stable condition.

The mother, previously classified as a suspected SARS case, died on April 19.

The three confirmed Beijing SARS patients are all related; one of them is a nurse who had been treating a case from Anhui province in eastern China.

The health ministry on Friday said the nurse is in stable condition, while her mother and aunt are in critical and "relatively stable" condition.

SARS, or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, infected more than 8,000 people between November 2002 and July 2003 in what the WHO deemed a "global threat."

Nearly 800 of those who contracted the disease died from it. Hong Kong, mainland China and Vietnam were the hardest hit.

Meanwhile, World Health Organization experts have gathered in Beijing in a bid to help snuff out a worrying re-emergence of the virus.

The WHO teams include experts in epidemiology, virology, infection control and laboratory bio-safety, who will work with their counterparts in China's Ministry of Health.

A fourth team would investigate China's infection control efforts and how the SARS cases went unnoticed for a period of time, WHO spokesman Bob Dietz said earlier this week.

Last year, China was criticized for the way it handled public information about SARS.

CNN Beijing Bureau Chief Jaime FlorCruz and Producer Tara Duffy contributed to this report


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