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WHO: The SARS outbreaks are over

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12 more people died yesterday from the Sars disease: five in Hong Kong and seven in China. Yesterday, four Sars patients died in Hong Kong and three people became ill. According to the World Health Organization in Geneva, the major outbreaks of the disease are about to end.

Experts at the World Health Organization explained that an unsuccessful combination of environmental circumstances and health factors caused the rapid outbreak of the virus in the residential neighborhood "Hanoi Gardens" in Hong Kong at the beginning of March. This explanation is consistent with the theories presented by the government for contagion.

Recently, there has been a slowdown in the spread of the virus in Hong Kong, and the number of new victims has been in the single digits for 13 days. But the Deputy Minister of Health, Leng Pak-yin, warned that the number of casualties should not be expected to continue to decrease every day. "Numbers can change easily," he said.

The World Health Organization has set several criteria, according to which it will be decided whether to remove its recommendation not to travel to Hong Kong. The recommendation is very damaging to the region's economy. A spokesperson from the organization said that the determining criterion will be the feeling that Hong Kong has managed to take control of the situation.

Singapore announced yesterday that the rumors about the SARS outbreak at the mental hospital are unfounded. In contrast, Taiwan announced yesterday the highest number of new casualties in a single day on the island so far.

According to Taiwan's new health minister, Chen Chin-Jen, who is an epidemiologist, the spread of the disease has worsened because "sick people hide their symptoms, causing the disease to break out in hospitals." The previous health minister resigned yesterday, due to the outbreak of the virus on the island. Sources in the health system said that yesterday the number of Sars cases on the island rose to 308 and the number of dead remained at 37. It was also reported that 50 Sars patients have recovered from the disease.

SARS has so far affected 7,700 people in the world. At least 620 of them died. The number of new victims is decreasing in most regions, except in Taiwan.
In China the situation is still difficult. But despite the size of the country, the situation is not as complicated as in other countries, because the government is making great efforts to control the epidemic. This is what the representative of the World Health Organization for handling the epidemic in the world, Mike Ryan, said at a meeting he organized in Geneva, with the participation of 16 countries.

Health Organization: China releases Sars patients from hospitals

The World Health Organization warned yesterday (Saturday) that China's health system is misdiagnosing patients with the symptoms of atypical pneumonia (SARS), and releasing them from hospitals. This was stated in a statement published today by the organization.

The announcement stated that the inaccurate diagnosis is the cause of the sharp drop in the number of people infected with the disease in Beijing that is reported daily. "The number of Sars patients who were released from the hospitals is unknown... the patients showed the symptoms of the disease but were released because their condition improved after a few days," the statement said. China's official news agency announced today that 31 senior officials in the health system in Beijing were brought to disciplinary proceedings for their failed handling of the spread of the epidemic.

The head of the team on behalf of the World Health Organization in Hong Kong, David Hyman, said today that the health system in Hong Kong has managed to control the spread of the SARS virus, and it is expected to be completely stopped in a few weeks.

Taiwan reported today a record number of 35 people infected with the disease in the last day. This brings the number of infected to 309. No deaths from the disease have been reported in the past day. The number of dead stands at 35. Yesterday, the Minister of Health of Taiwan resigned from his position, and accepted responsibility for the SARS outbreak in three major hospitals in the country.

Advertisement Yesterday the World Health Organization announced that there is a "dramatic change" in the fight against Sars in Singapore as well, and that there is a chance that on Sunday the country will be removed from the list of areas infected with the disease. This, if it turns out that a group of 13 people from a mental health institution who were hospitalized in isolation on suspicion of contracting the disease, did not contract it.

In Singapore, no new cases of SARS have been reported for 15 days. The World Health Organization has set a period of 20 days without cases of infection to declare an area free of SARS. The areas that remain infected with SARS are: China, Taiwan and Hong Kong.

The Health Organization: China's SARS report is "full of holes"

"The authorities have no idea about the dimensions of the disease in their country," accused the spokeswoman of the organization. In Beijing, it was decided to reduce taxes for those helping in the fight against the virus. Australian scientist: an effective vaccine for the disease is still "years away"

The World Health Organization accuses that the report published by China about the spread of the Sars epidemic in its territory is "partial and full of holes". The spokeswoman for the health organization said on Saturday, 10/5/03 that the report has difficulty explaining how at least half of the patients contracted the disease.

According to the organization, the main part of the information that is still missing in the authorities' reports is where the patients who contracted the epidemic lived, and where the virus most likely attacked them. The spokeswoman noted, however, that there has been an improvement in the transfer of data about the patients in Beijing, the capital. According to her, officials do not know how to explain how half of the patients contracted the disease, "so they actually have no idea what is going on."

"The disease spreads in a certain direction, and you may not know anything about it," the spokeswoman added. She explained that some hospitals do not know how to treat those infected with the disease. "They should find out where the patients live, who they socialized with," she said.

Reducing taxes for helping to eradicate the epidemic

The Chinese authorities have found an original way to fight the disease: the state's official news agency announced that a tax discount will be given to businesses that have been severely affected by the spread of the disease, and tax breaks will also be given to the employees of the health system and its donors. In the southern province of Guangdong, where the virus first appeared, it was decided on tax breaks valued at 109 million dollars. The concessions were given to businesses that specialized in transportation, tourism, hotels and restaurants.

Eight insurance companies even offered new policies, in case of infection or injury from the disease. The policies are valid for one year.

"Taiwan has lost control of the disease"

The World Health Organization warned against the spread of the SARS disease in Taipei, Taiwan, because the health authorities in the country did not locate the source of the disease in which many were infected. This is a sign that Taiwan has lost control of SARS, the organization explained.

In the first stages of the disease's spread, Taiwan managed to isolate the suspects as having contracted it. Many of them came from China and Hong Kong. But the disease spread quickly and got out of control.

The state reported 23 more SARS patients who were found today. The total number of patients now stands at 172 people in Taiwan, with 18 people dying from it. 235 people died in China, in Hong Kong 212, in Singapore 27, in Canada 23, in Vietnam five, in Malaysia two, as well as in the Philippines and Thailand. In total, the disease claimed the lives of 524 people worldwide.

Australian scientist: SARS vaccine - only in a few years

A senior Australian scientist estimated that the long-awaited vaccine for the Sars disease will be found only in a few years. This is due to the fear of damage to vital systems in the body due to the vaccine.

Steve Wesseling, who specializes in eradicating viruses, said that "we have to be very careful, and this means that an effective vaccine is years away." According to him, an effective treatment for the disease will only be found in a long time. The words were said at an international emergency conference in Melbourne regarding the deadly epidemic.

The disease killed half of its patients who were older than 60, according to a new published study. A potential vaccine could cause a reaction that would worsen the patients' condition, the scientist explained.

Medical companies and organizations began the search for a cure for Sars. "I hope that a cure for the disease will indeed be found, although at the moment no agents have been located that will act against viruses related to it. Therefore, this may take time," added Wesseling.

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