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SARS Threatens Asian Economy As Well As Lives - 2003-04-24


There are new developments to report on the spread of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome- or SARS. It's having an increasing impact in Asia, as Carol Pearson reports.

In Asia, SARS continues to spread. It threatens to transform Asian economies, grounding tourism and stretching health care systems.

Schools in Beijing have closed after the government acknowledged that SARS is more wide spread there than previously thought.

Beijing is now a sea of white masks and many public places are deserted.

The exceptions are railway stations and airports where locals and foreigners alike are fleeing the city, heading toward a SARS-free location.

Australian Will Barrett and his family are among those leaving China.

“In particular, we’re concerned that our children, if they happen to get sick, they might have to go into a hospital in Beijing and as far as we know, many of the hospitals here are dangerous places to be at the moment because of the possibility of getting SARS.”

There is no medication that can ward off the disease.

So far it has claimed at least 250 lives and infected more than 4,000 others.

The W.H.O. is concerned that the death rate could rise if SARS hits areas ill equipped to treat the victims.

Southeast Asian health ministers have scheduled a meeting in Malaysia Friday to discuss ways of coping with the disease.