“We’ve seen that there has been a massive effort to mobilize the population both in urban and rural areas across the country, encouraging people to monitor themselves for fever and to ensure that SARS cases are quickly identified, isolated and treated,” David Heymann, WHO’s Executive Director for Communicable Diseases, said at a press briefing on the situation of SARS control in China.The briefing – where he was joined by China’s Executive Vice Minister of Health, Gao Qiang – marked the first joint news conference between high-ranking Chinese and WHO officials since the SARS outbreak began late last year.Initial WHO assessments, issued in late April following a visit to Guangdong Province, expressed serious concern over the lack of urgency in reporting SARS cases, and criticized the Chinese Government for not immediately treating the outbreak as a public health emergency.Dr. Heymann noted the vast difference in approach now, praising the openness with which the Ministry of Health welcomed the WHO team. He cited the high level of commitment and determination at all levels of the health system as largely responsible for the recent dramatic decline in the number of cases seen throughout mainland China.Indications of the effectiveness of control measures cited by Dr. Heymann include the very short time now occurring between the onset of symptoms and the detection and isolation of cases, and the speed and efficiency of contact tracing.The WHO team, however, said it was still concerned by the lack of a reliable, sustainable surveillance system to detect the first hints of a resurgence of cases, some delays in meeting WHO requests for further information, and wide variations in application of the national case definitions, which can lead to under-reporting of cases.The briefing followed a day of intensive meetings during which WHO officials reviewed data and statistics from selected provinces, voiced their concerns, and received frank and detailed answers. The team has been in China since Tuesday. Listen to UN Radio report read more