SARS Appears in More Asian Nations
April 11, 2003
INDONESIA AND the Philippines on Friday reported their first cases of severe acute respiratory syndrome, both of them foreigners who had traveled to Hong Kong or Singapore, bringing the number of nations with reported cases to 20.
Redoubling precautions, Hong Kong ordered members of 70 to 80 households with known victims of the disease to stay in their homes for 10 days in case they have been infected. Police were making spot inspections and violators faced fines, imprisonment or confinement in quarantine camps.
On Thursday, the U.S. State Department advised Americans not to travel to China unless necessary. It also alerted travelers to a new Chinese government policy requiring hospitalization of anyone ÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½ including foreigners ÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½ who shows SARS symptoms until the contagious phase passes.
The State Department said that under the new Chinese policy, patients will not be allowed to see family members, personal physicians or U.S. consular officials.
55 DEATHS IN CHINA
Beijing has reported four of ChinaÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½s 55 deaths from SARS and 22 cases of infection. Experts believe the disease started in southern China late last year and then spread to other parts of the country and around the world.
A Chinese health official and the U.S. Consulate in Shanghai confirmed that at least seven foreign nationals, including two Americans, were being treated in that city. None of the foreigners at ShanghaiÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½s Pulmonary Disease Hospital has been confirmed to have SARS, said an official of the Shanghai Center for Disease Control who would give only his surname, Jiang. But on Wednesday, an American teacher was pronounced dead after falling ill in the hard-hit province of Guangdong. The teacher was taken to Hong Kong for treatment in what a friend contended was an attempt by Chinese authorities to avoid the embarrassment of another foreignerÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½s death on the mainland.
James Salisbury, a 52-year-old English instructor at a polytechnic institute in China, already appeared dead when he was wheeled into an ambulance in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, according to the friend, David Westbrook, who was with Salisbury and had been in contact with doctors about his condition
Meanwhile, researchers released more evidence suggesting SARS may be caused by a new coronavirus, a bug that ordinarily causes common colds. But scientists were checking whether some other microbe might make SARS more severe or easier to catch.
ALMOST 3,000 INFECTED
Worldwide, SARS has claimed at least 111 lives and sickened more than 2,700 people. Symptoms include fever, shortness of breath, coughing, chills and body aches. Mainland China and Hong Kong have reported the highest numbers of infections and deaths. Canada, Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia also have reported fatalities.
IndonesiaÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½s first confirmed SARS case was a 47-year-old British businessman who was hospitalized Wednesday. He had visited Hong Kong and Singapore before arriving in Indonesia, said Mariani Reksoprodjo, a health ministry spokeswoman. She said the country had nine other people with SARS-like symptoms under observation.
The Philippines reported its first ÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½probableÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½ case in a 64-year-old foreigner who frequently travels between Manila and Hong Kong. The patient sought treatment immediately after his symptoms started and did not appear to have infected anyone else, said President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
Canada has seen the largest outbreak of SARS outside of Asia, with 10 people killed among more than 200 probable or suspected cases, the first a woman returning from Hong Kong. Ethnic Chinese in Canada say theyÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½ve been stigmatized as carriers and that their businesses have suffered.
Seeking to ease concern, Prime Minister Jean Chretien dined in TorontoÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½s Chinatown and urged others to do the same.
IN U.S., WORKPLACE SARS
The United States has reported its first SARS case suspected to have spread in a workplace. The United States has had no deaths, but 166 suspected cases, most of them people falling ill after travel in Asia.
In Hong Kong, health officials were making daily phone calls to the 150 people affected by the territoryÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½s new quarantine order to ask about their health. They would be visited by health workers for home medical checks, said Health Department spokeswoman Elaine Wong.The government has promised to provide the quarantined households with food and other necessities.Police were to drop by the homes unannounced to check on compliance with the order, announced Thursday as Hong Kong reported it had almost 1,000 cases and 30 deaths from SARS.The government also said it would post on the Internet a list of buildings where SARS cases had been found.
IN RELATED DEVELOPMENTS:
– Malaysia announced it would deny visas to most Hong Kong people. On Wednesday, Malaysia said it would begin barring all tourists from China while those from other places badly hit by SARS will need to obtain health certificates before entering.
– German airline Lufthansa said Thursday it had been informed by Hong Kong health authorities that one of its passengers had been diagnosed with SARS. It said the passenger, a 48-year-old Chinese man, had traveled with Lufthansa between March 30 and April 4.
– Taiwan said medical staff would quarantine all arriving travelers found to have a fever.
– In Singapore, Manpower Minister Lee Boon Yang said that over the next month all foreign workers arriving from SARS-stricken areas will be quarantined for 10 days.
– SilkAir flew home a Singaporean in an empty plane after he was turned back in Thailand on suspicion of being infected with SARS. A battery of tests later showed the man was free of the virus.
– Australia declared itself to be free of SARS, with health authorities saying the one suspected case detected on Australian soil was a false alarm. A British tourist, who had been declared a probable SARS case but had recovered and left the country, had been suffering from influenza, test results had found, health authorities said.