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The World Health Organization warns: do not travel to Toronto and Beijing

China and Hong Kong announced today 15 more victims of the disease. In Beijing the schools were closed. In Australia, a six-month prison sentence can be imposed from today on a patient who refuses to receive treatment

The World Health Organization yesterday (Wednesday) called on tourists to avoid traveling to Toronto, Canada, and Beijing, the capital of China, due to the spread of the SARS disease in both cities. The organization announced that all non-essential travel to these places should be postponed and in three weeks the warning will be reconsidered.

The Ministry of Health in Israel decided to adopt the recommendation of the World Health Organization. During the holiday, the directive of the Ministry of the Interior not to approve the entry of foreign workers from China and Vietnam into Israel came into effect.

Meanwhile, the SARS epidemic continues to spread in China and Hong Kong. In China, it was reported today that nine more people have died from the virus and another 147 have been diagnosed with the virus, almost all of them in Beijing. Another six deaths were reported in Hong Kong (105 in total).

The schools were closed

The country most affected by the disease so far is China and half of the SARS cases worldwide occurred there. So far, more than 200 people have died worldwide and about 4,200 have been infected with the virus in 25 countries.

The representative of the World Health Organization in China said that "since we do not have the necessary resources to deal with SARS, we are expected to face a major outbreak of the disease."

Following the epidemic, the Chinese authorities decided to close the schools in Beijing, in an attempt to help slow the spread.

The World Trade Organization has expressed concern that the world economy will be damaged as a result of the epidemic and the volume of trade is expected to increase this year by less than three percent.

In the Philippines this week, the first case of death from the disease was discovered in the country. In Singapore, six more cases were reported, including three children, which brought the number of people infected with the disease to 184 people. So far 14 people have died from the disease in the country. 2,400 people were placed in isolation for fear of contracting the virus. In India, three more people were infected, bringing the number of patients to four.

Australia approved involuntary hospitalization

The health authorities in the state of South Wales in Australia today approved a new regulation defining the SARS disease as a "disease dangerous to the public". The regulation makes it possible to forcibly hospitalize a person who is ill or suspected of having an epidemic, which has claimed approximately 250 victims worldwide.

The regulation also allows a patient with SARS, severe respiratory distress syndrome, to be sentenced to six months in prison or a large financial fine. And this, if he does not obey the instructions of the health authorities and refuses to receive medical treatment. In addition, the authorities ordered the country's hospitals to prepare 900 beds in case of a major outbreak of the epidemic.

"These efforts seem extreme, but they are essential for maintaining public health," says South Wales Premier Bob Carr.

Three cases of SARS have so far been discovered in Australia, among three Canadian brothers who contracted the disease during their stay in Toronto.

A special scientist who follows the SARS disease

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