After a battery of tests, China's health ministry and the World Health Organisation (WHO) confirmed that a 32-year-old television journalist from Guangdong province had the virus, which left around 800 dead and infected 8000 in a global health crisis last year.

"Guangdong province reported one confirmed case of SARS. In the rest of the country there were no suspect, clinically confirmed or confirmed cases," the ministry said in its daily SARS report posted on its website.

The ministry said the patient was in a stable condition and his temperature was normal. None of the 42 people who had close contact with him nor 39 who had normal contact have shown any fever or any other abnormal signs, it said.

The WHO said the case appeared to be isolated for now and it was looking into why the close contacts had not shown similar symptoms.

Isolated case

"What we are looking at the moment is one isolated case,"
spokesman Ian Simpson said from WHO's Geneva headquarters. 
 
Zhong Nanshan, China's leading SARS expert, earlier told a press conference in Hong Kong that the case was linked to the civet cat, whose meat is popular for its perceived medicinal properties.

About 800 people died of the SARS
virus in 2003

Guangdong Health Bureau deputy director Feng Liuxiang said all wild animal markets in Guangdong would be shut down immediately.

"We will seek to seal and block all civet cats from other provinces and take action to kill civet cats in Guangdong province," he said.

He estimated that around 10,000 of the ferret-like animals - which are bred for the dinner table and considered a culinary delicacy in southern China - would be slaughtered.

An order was also issued for the extermination of rats, flies, mosquitoes and bedbugs. The China Daily Monday said rats found in the apartment of the man with SARS had also tested positive for the virus.

Phillipines scare

Meanwhile, the Philippines is conducting tests on a woman suspected of having contracted SARS while in Hong Kong just as Chinese doctors confirmed a patient in their care is suffering from the virus.

"We are conducting a (basic) test, which would specifically give you an idea if it's SARS or not"

Dennis Magat
Spokesman, Phillipines Department of Health

Department of Health spokesman Dennis Magat said the woman, who had a fever, was being kept in isolation along with her doctor and was undergoing tests.

"We are conducting a (basic) test, which would specifically give you an idea if it's SARS or not," he said on Monday.

The woman returned to Manila last month.

Authorities are conducting "contact-tracing" to track down all the people whom the woman could have met before she was isolated, Magat added.

The Philippines reported 12 SARS cases last year. Two people died and the government later said it had eradicated the disease.

Filipino maids make up the bulk of the domestic workforce in Hong Kong. Two Filipino citizens including a maid died from SARS in the territory.

Malaysia concerned
 

Malaysia has begun screeing airline
passengers from Guangdon

A Malaysian woman is being tested in Kuala Lumpur for SARS after developing a high fever on a trip to China, including a visit to the southern Guangdong province.

The 31-year-old woman was found to have fever, a cough and a sore throat upon her arrival in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday after a tour of China, The Star daily reported.

Deputy health director-general Ismail Merican said the woman had been isolated, but her fever had subsided and her X-rays were normal.

"We are still waiting for the lab report but we believe it is not a SARS case. There is no need to be alarmed," he said.

Malaysia began screening airline passengers from Guangdong last month, following news of a possible SARS case there. Guangdong province was where the SARS virus originated more than a year ago.