A mysterious respiratory disease that has infected dozens of people in a central Chinese city is not Sars, local authorities said.
The 2002-03 acute respiratory syndrome epidemic started in southern China and killed over 700 people. Fear of a recurrence arose this month after several people were taken to hospital with unexplained viral pneumonia in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province.
Fifty-nine people had been diagnosed with the condition since Sunday. They were isolated while receiving treatment, according to the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission. Seven are in critical condition.
The commission said in a statement that initial investigations had excluded Sars and Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome, influenza, avian influenza and adenovirus.
The commission previously said that the most common symptom of the condition was fever, with shortness of breath and lung infections that appear in a small number of cases. There were no clear indications of human-to-human transmission.
Several patients worked at the food market in the South China Fish City on the outskirts of Wuhan. The commission said the market will be suspended and investigated.
The Hong Kong hospital authority said Sunday that 15 patients were treated for symptoms including fever and respiratory infection after recent visits to Wuhan.
Hospitals and doctors had been ordered to report fever cases to anyone who had traveled to Wuhan in the past 14 days, said Sophia Chan, head of health in Hong Kong.
The hospital authority said it activated a serious response level to curb the spread of the infection. Chan warned Hong Kong residents not to visit wet markets and eat game in mainland China.
The World Health Organization has stated that it monitors the situation closely and maintains contacts with the Chinese authorities. At the time, no travel or trade restrictions were necessary.