Beijing Primary School Closed Indefinitely Over SARS Fears


WASHINGTON, April 15, 2003 — ; Authorities in the Chinese capital have suspended all classes at the Beijing Zhongguancun First Primary School because of fears that a student may have contracted the deadly SARS virus, Radio Free Asia (RFA) has learned.

The school, located in a northwestern section of Beijing known as China's Silicon Valley, was closed Monday, teachers told RFA's Mandarin service. A fourth-grader whose grandfather has a confirmed case of SARS came down with a fever, according to one of her teachers, who asked not to be named.

The little girl "was in close contact with her grandfather. We are responsible for the students, and we must tell the whole truth. She has a fever, and she is under observation... I don't know which hospital she's in," the teacher said.

A staffer at the Beijing Center for Disease Control and Prevention's SARS Hotline confirmed that the grandfather of a student at the Zhongguancun First Primary School was known to have contracted SARS.

A teacher at the Zhongguancun Middle School, also contacted by telephone, said no such illness had been reported at the Zhongguancun Middle School or other Zhongguancun primary schools.

The Zhongguancun First Primary School is located in northwestern Beijing. The high-tech Zhongguancun area occupies 3.34 square kilometers and comprises a population of just over 56,000.

After months of hiding their SARS outbreak, Chinese leaders are now waging a high-profile effort to halt its spread. Nearly half the world's cases of SARS have occurred in China, where 64 people have died and more than 1,430 have been infected. The virus has reportedly infected 3,300 people and killed 144 in more than 20 countries.

RFA broadcasts news and information to Asian listeners who lack regular access to full and balanced reporting in their domestic media. Through its broadcasts and call-in programs, RFA aims to fill a critical gap in the lives of people across Asia. Created by Congress in 1994 and incorporated in 1996, RFA currently broadcasts in Burmese, Cantonese, Khmer, Korean, Lao, Mandarin, the Wu dialect, Vietnamese, Tibetan (Uke, Amdo, and Kham), and Uyghur. It adheres to the highest standards of journalism and aims to exemplify accuracy, balance, and fairness in its editorial content.###


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