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4,000 SARS-infected Beijing residents are forced into isolation

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[Beijing, April 25, 2003] One Beijing Health Bureau official said that 4,000 local residents infected with SARS are currently ordered to stay at home in isolation—a figure just disclosed by Mr. Guo Jiyong, vice chief for the Health Bureau. This tough measure by the government aims at preventing the infected residents from visiting public places.

At present, three SARS-infected hospitals in Beijing have been shut down for inspection. Now all 147 hospitals in Beijing are being investigated. Due to the fact that many residents are afraid to go to public places, there is a price hike in the market such as for food and other daily necessities. New China News Agency reported, "Chinese cabbage was sold for 0.90 yuan per kilo yesterday, but now for 2.50 yuan per kilo. Likewise, tomatoes were each sold for 1.50 yuan yesterday and now for 3.80 yuan…” Part of the reason is that the suburban farmers are reluctant to ship their vegetables to town for fear of SARS.

All university students are prohibited from leaving their campuses, unless they could show a doctor's note, proving the student is in good health. It is reported that among the first groups to flee Beijing are those foreign visitors, wealthy business people, and government officials who have villas outside the city. Migrant workers and regular tourists are also lining up at the Beijing Railway Station to leave the city. Employees at foreign companies are also leaving China on paid vacation trips. For example, Toyota has decided to pay its employees and their family members in China and Hong Kong to take a one-week vacation. Some foreign embassies in Beijing are working with Beijing Education Bureau to ensure that their students in Beijing will remain enlisted in their respective universities in Beijing despite that they have already left Beijing.

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