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SARS Outbreak Looking Grim in Taiwan

Taiwan reported a record daily rise in SARS cases today - 65 more people infected and eight more people dead. As David Cohler reports, Taiwan now has the world's fastest-growing outbreak of the disease.


Her name was Hu Gue-Fang, a nurse at a Taipei hospital, and one of the growing number of SARS victims in Taiwan. The mayor of Taipei was among the mourners, joining Mrs. Hu's husband, parents, in-laws, and hospital co-workers. Such scenes have become all too familiar in Taiwan, where death and infection from SARS have reached record numbers - by official count, 483 infected and 60 dead as of Thursday.

Many of the latest cases were at Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in the southern city of Kaohsiung. Twelve people, including a doctor, died of SARS at the facility. About 90 percent of the island's cases are linked to outbreaks at hospitals, and the government has fined four of them for delaying the reporting of SARS patients to authorities.

At a news conference Thursday, the director of Taiwan's Center for Disease Control said the spread of the epidemic in the south is under control.

But C.D.C. Director Su Ih-jen said a major problem remains: So new is the disease that hospital staff have trouble diagnosing SARS patients when they arrive in the emergency room.

The World Health Organization has extended its SARS travel warning to all of Taiwan because of the illness's rapid spread.

[NATSOT, raising flag at Beijing high school]

In China, Beijing high schools reopened Thursday after a month-long shutdown. Students said they were happy the gradual containment of SARS in China has permitted them to get back to classes. But even as they spoke, the government announced 4 more SARS deaths and 26 more infections Thursday.