Sunday, February 16, 2003
Millions of Chinese are stockpiling vinegar as a supposed disinfectant against a mystery pneumonia virus in southern China. The panic has even reached Shanghai, a day's train journey from its source in Guangdong province
More than 300 people were reportedly affected by the unidentified bug which first appeared in November: five have died. Although no new cases have been reported for several days, there is alarm.
Hundreds of tons of antibiotics and other medicines to tackle respiratory infection are being rushed to Guangdong, but vinegar is still in high demand. Many believe that if a pan of vinegar is boiled until it evaporates, the steam will be an effective disinfectant against disease. Four extra deaths were reported last week as a result of the vinegar being boiled over coal-burning stoves which gave off lethal fumes.
Two were in Foshan, where a pan was left boiling overnight, killing an 18-year-old girl and a seven-year-old boy. Their mother is critically ill.