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Hong Kong Compensates Families of Health Workers Who Died of SARS - 2003-05-26

Hong Kong has promised to compensate families of public health workers who lost their lives to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. And another Taiwan health official has resigned over shortcomings in infection control procedures.

Hong Kong's government says it will compensate families of public medical professionals who have lost their lives trying to save victims of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome.

As the city comes to grips with the human and economic devastation caused by the disease, the Health Secretary, Dr. Yeoh Eng-Kiong says each family will receive a lump sum of about $400,000.

"The committee agreed that family relatives of each of them would be given financial assistance in recognition of their brave acts," explained Dr. Eng-Kiong.

Hong Kong reported just one new case and one death, confirming that the disease is under control. The territory has seen a total of 1,726 cases, and 269 people have died.

In Taiwan, Taipei's health chief, Chiu Shu-ti, stepped down late Sunday, taking blame for failure to contain the spread of SARS.

In an emotional good-bye, she told Taiwan residents she was sorry for the rapid spread of SARS from medical facilities to the community. She is the second health official to resign in the past two weeks.

Last week the World Health Organization warned that Taiwan had the world's fastest growing SARS outbreak and said infection control measures in hospitals were not sufficient.

But Taiwan's health officials are optimistic that the number of new infections - 15 on Monday - would continue to decline.

Authorities blamed recent increases partially on a backlog of "suspected" infections, which took time to confirm as SARS.

Taiwan has recorded nearly 600 SARS cases, and 72 people have died from the disease.

China, with the world's largest SARS outbreak, more than 5,300 cases, reported just eight new infections. The death toll rose by 2 to reach 317.

The figure was the lowest daily increase in the number of victims since the government began its policy of open reporting in April.

Worldwide, more than 8,100 people have contracted the disease, which causes a serious pneumonia, and about 720 have died.