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BMJ 2004; 328 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.328.7433.184 (Published 22 January 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;328:184

China confirms three cases of SARS: The Chinese authorities have confirmed three cases of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) so far this year. Traces of the virus were found in cages used to house civets in a restaurant where one of the women who contracted SARS worked, though experts are not sure that that was the mode of transmission. The source of infection for the other two cases is not yet known.

Polio immunisation campaign misses 300 000: Although India's health ministry has declared its intention to wipe out poliomyelitis by the end of 2004, at least 300 000 children were not covered in the recent “pulse polio immunisation” programme in west Bengal. The state government blamed cold and rainy weather for the programme's shortcomings.

Vietnam confirms fifth death from avian flu: The World Health Organization has confirmed a fifth death as a result of the H5N1 avian flu outbreak in Vietnam, and more suspected cases are emerging at two Hanoi hospitals. More than two million chickens have been slaughtered in an attempt to bring the outbreak under control. So far, there have been no confirmed cases of human to human transmission.

Plea for some patients to be exempt from smoking ban: A majority of Dutch MPs are urging that new regulations banning smoking in public places be relaxed in the case of elderly, nursing, and care homes, and psychiatric institutions. They have argued patients should not be “denied their last pleasures.”

GMC investigates wife of pathologist van Velzen: The General Medical Council is investigating Dr Lynne Ball, a former consultant at Alder Hey Hospital in Liverpool. Dr Ball is the wife of Professor Dick van Velzen, former pathologist at the hospital, whom the GMC barred from practising in Britain after he was found to have retained thousands of children's organs without consent (BMJ 2001;322: 255). The GMC refused to comment on the nature of the allegations againstDr Ball.

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