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SARS Outbreak Threatens Taiwan - 2003-05-16


Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome continues to plague Asia. Officials fear the outbreak could get worse in Taiwan, while the country’s health minister resigns, and new findings about an outbreak at an apartment complex in Hong Kong. Brian Purchia has the latest.

SARS has killed 3 more people in Taiwan, including 2 doctors, raising the island's toll to 37. There is concern the outbreak could get worse. Taipei City Mayor Ma Ying-Jeou.

TAIPEI CITY MAYOR MA YING-JEOU
"We're not so sure if the second wave (of infections) is beginning to mount or beginning to descend, so we basically feel that it may take another week or so before we can determine where the second wave is heading for."

Mainland China announced 4 new SARS deaths, increasing the nationwide death toll to 275. There were 39 new infections, the lowest number since the government admitted covering up the scale of the epidemic in April.

Beijing has suspended foreign adoptions, fearing that prospective parents arriving from abroad may spread the deadly virus.

Japan, which has had no reported cases of SARS, said Friday it will give about 13-million dollars in aid to help China combat the SARS virus.

In Hong Kong, another 4 people have died and 3 new cases of SARS have been recorded, the lowest number of infections since the government began counting in March.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization says a major SARS outbreak in Hong Kong was caused by contaminated droplets, not by people breathing the same air.

A spokesman for a W.H.O. team in Hong Kong, Doctor Heinz Feldmann said an unlucky combination of events at the Amoy Gardens apartment complex caused the virus to spread through a faulty sewage system.

DR. HEINZ FELDMAN LEADER OF THE W.H.O. ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH TEAM
"There's no evidence that this virus is what people refer to as an air-borne virus such as influenza or measles if you wish. But it's a very difficult term even for us. It's not airborne but droplets also travel through air."

More than 300 people contracted SARS at the complex in late March. 35 of them died.

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