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Taiwan Reports 1st SARS Death - 2003-04-27

Taiwan is reporting its first death from the SARS virus and officials say they plan to quarantine people arriving from China. Meanwhile, Chinese officials are closing down hundreds of businesses in Beijing as they struggle to curb the spread of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. Officials have also sealed off at least one university.

As the number of SARS cases in the city approaches 1,100 , Beijing's government has ordered theaters, Internet cafes, discos and video arcades to shut down. Reports from state-run media say the closures are to stop the spread of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome.

Foreign students at Beijing Language Institute were told that classes have been suspended and Chinese students are not permitted to leave campus. There are reports other universities will be sealed off. Earlier in the week, Beijing students were told not to leave their campuses during the Labor Day holiday period starting Monday.

The Chinese capital is eerily quiet with most people staying home. Bars and restaurants have seen business drop by as much as 90 percent.

In Taiwan, the government says it will quarantine for 10 days anyone who arrives on the island from Hong Kong, mainland China, Canada and Singapore, the places hardest hit by SARS. The order could cause significant economic damage. Thousands of Taiwanese work in China and Hong Kong, and many more frequently take trips to the mainland.

The island has reported its first death from SARS. At least 50 island residents have been diagnosed with SARS. The man who died was infected by a relative from Hong Kong.

Hong Kong's government protested the quarantine decision. Stephen Lam, the government's secretary for constitutional affairs, said Hong Kong is checking the body temperatures of travelers leaving the city, and taking other measures to prevent the spread of SARS. He said other governments, such as Malaysia, accept these efforts and are letting Hong Kong residents cross their borders.

Mr. Lam went on to say it is important for Taiwan and Hong Kong to communicate closely to understand the SARS situation fully.

China on Sunday reported nine new deaths from SARS and 161 new infections, bringing its nationwide toll to 131 deaths and nearly 3,000 cases.

In Hong Kong, the government said 12 more people died of SARS, bringing the death toll there to 133. More than 1,500 residents have contracted the disease.

Worldwide, SARS has infected more than 4,900 people, killing nearly three hundred since it first appeared late last year in southern China.