Orem Man Dies of SARS in China

Orem Man Dies of SARS in China

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HONG KONG (AP) -- An Orem teacher living in China who was infected with severe acute respiratory syndrome has died from the flu-like illness sweeping across Asia, officials said Wednesday.

James Salisbury, 52, was brought from the Chinese border city of Shenzhen to Hong Kong and pronounced dead at North District Hospital, hospital spokesman Peter Cheng said.

Raising fears that the crisis may be worse than previously thought, a senior Chinese physician accused his government Wednesday of covering up details about the spread of SARS in Beijing. Other parts of Asia nervously invoked extra precautions to contain the disease.

In Hong Kong, Salisbury's 6-year-old son, Mickey, also was ill and taken to Tuen Mun Hospital, where he was in stable condition, government spokeswoman Josephine Yu said.

The two had initially been diagnosed with pneumonia, said Salisbury's oldest daughter, Michelle, 23, of Orem.

Days later, they were diagnosed with severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS. The disease has spread around the world and killed more than 100 people.

"We know the doctors did everything they could for him," Michelle Salisbury said. "This is a new disease, and they did what they could under the circumstances."

She said her father had been all over China, but there were no reported outbreaks where he was living.

The family has been receiving information from one of his friends in China and authorities with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Asia.

Michelle Salisbury said she last spoke to her father in February when he left for China.

James Salisbury and his son had moved to Shenzhen where he accepted a job teaching English at a college, leaving his wife and 5-year-old triplet girls in Orem.

The job in the southeastern Chinese city near Hong Kong was supposed to be temporary, but Salisbury and his wife were considering moving the entire family to China.

For the past 16 years, Salisbury, who has eight children, split his time teaching in China and Utah, where he was a part-time professor of psychology, ethics, human development and theater at Utah Valley State College. He was also a substitute teacher in the Salt Lake School District, but spent a lot of time in China.

"He has always loved China," said Michelle Salisbury, a daughter from his first marriage. "He loved to read, and he loved classical music. He played the piano very well."

Salisbury was a family man who valued his children's opinions, she said. For example, he would often ask the children about the meaning of life.

The family has not decided whether to travel to China, or when to hold a funeral. Her father had no outstanding health problems that would have made him particularly susceptible to SARS, she said.

Dr. Jiang Yanyong, retired chief of surgery for a Beijing military hospital, said the outbreak in the Chinese capital might be five times greater than officially admitted.

The 72-year-old Jiang said he had not been contacted by the authorities, but added, "I don't know what will happen later."

The World Health Organization representative in China, Henk Bekedam, said it was "very difficult" to know whether authorities were providing the WHO team with all available information.

He said team members met Wednesday with Health Minister Zhang Wenkang and State Councilor Wu Yi and shared "the concern that there are many rumors and no clear answers."

A friend of Salisbury's, David Westbrook, told The Associated Press that Salisbury was an English teacher at a polytechnic institute in Shenzhen, China. He had been ill for about a month but thought he had a minor flu and only sought treatment nine days ago.

Westbrook said Salisbury showed no signs of life when he was put in an ambulance and taken to Hong Kong.

The last American to die from SARS was a businessman from Shanghai who died in Hong Kong after becoming ill during a trip to Vietnam.

Hong Kong hospital officials tried to resuscitate Salisbury but failed and did not admit him to the hospital. They did not immediately classify Salisbury's death as a SARS death.

Doctors in Shenzhen initially argued against moving Salisbury but consented after it appeared he had only a 30 percent chance of survival, Westbrook said.

Salisbury's son looked fine, Westbrook said, speaking on the phone from Dongguan in nearby Guangdong province. Guangdong is where officials believe SARS may have originated. Michelle Salisbury said her brother is being kept in the hospital for at least 10 days, the believed incubation period for SARS.

Hong Kong reported two other deaths Wednesday, raising the number of fatalities here to 27, and 42 new cases, for a total of 970.

SARS has infected more than 2,600 people worldwide and killed at least 106, most of them in mainland China and Hong Kong, with other deaths in Canada, Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia.

Malaysia stopped issuing entry visas to most Chinese travelers. Indonesia told its citizens to stop spitting in public places. Singapore's Roman Catholic Church reportedly ordered its priests to stop hearing confessions.

The Philippines issued an advisory against unnecessary travel to Hong Kong and the southern Chinese province of Guangdong, citing the SARS outbreak.

Australian air carrier Qantas announced Wednesday it will lay off 1,000 staff before the end of June, blaming a drop in traffic brought about by SARS as well as the war in Iraq. Hong Kong's airport has seen hundreds of flights canceled since the World Health Organization warned people not to travel to the former British colony if they could avoid it.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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