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WHO representatives praise HK government for SARS control
( 2003-06-16 15:43) (Xinhua)

Representatives from the World Health Organization (WHO) Saturday praised the Hong Kong government's clinical management practices against severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), describing its practices as exemplary.

One representative also openly acknowledged the benefit of using Chinese medicine for treating SARS.

The first remarks came from two WHO representatives Mark Salter and Mike Ryan during a press conference after attending the two-day SARS Clinical Management Workshop with more than 120 medical experts from around the world to share clinical experience on combating SARS.

"I think probably the first line in the most effective modalities we've seen in controlling SARS around the globe has been the rapid implementation of appropriate infection control measures," said Salter.

"We've seen that come to the fore very much in Hong Kong as soon as people became aware that SARS is a new deadly disease, such that in the intervening few weeks, we have seen the number of cases occurring in Hong Kong rapidly decline.

"Such as in the last few days, we haven't seen any more new cases.... So I think that is exemplary," said Salter.

He also praised the Hong Kong government's installation of facilities at the Hong Kong International Airport to screen for the abnormally high bodily temperatures of passengers, airport's staff and members of air crews, saying that such are also exemplary.

"We've expressed our delight saying to the secretary (the Hong Kong government's Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food E. K. Yeoh), and how this should be really disseminated to other countries in the world, who can then also put in such systems to reduce the risk of having problems of SARS in future," he said.

Mike Ryan also praised the Hong Kong government for already taking swift steps to control the spread the disease at a time when the world was still unaware of the seriousness of the disease.

"The transparency of the Hong Kong authority, in terms of sharing information with WHO and the rapidity of the screening at the airport and the inter-sectoral collaboration between the public health, the clinical management and the police to follow upon the contact tracing, is taken for granted, but extremely difficult to put in place," he said.

"I think you have to judge the response on the basis of the capacity of the system, as it responded to this outbreak, and that also explains the way Hong Kong, Toronto and other places have managed this outbreak on behalf of the world's population. This is a global phenomenon. This outbreak had the potential of spreading globally....

"So the world expresses their gratitude to Hong Kong and a number of cities who manage to do it on behalf of the world's population," Ryan said.

On the Chinese mainland's using combined Chinese and western medicine treatments for SARS at predominantly Chinese mainland hospitals, Salter said he is sure that Chinese medicine carries "significant benefits," and the international community continues to closely examine the benefits of Chinese medicine.

"I am sure that there are significant benefits. I know that there are a number of international establishments around the world which are examining very closely the benefits of Chinese medicines, and I am sure that in the future, we will see them.

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