HK recovers from SARS false alarm
( 2003-09-17 14:12) (China Daily)
Hong Kong heaved a sigh of relief yesterday after a suspected SARS patient was cleared of the deadly disease.
The case had sent jitters running through the territory, prompting the Hong Kong government to activate its early warning system on infectious disease and sending stock prices tumbling briefly.
It followed the return of SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) to Singapore last week.
In Hong Kong, a 34-year-old woman admitted to the Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) on Monday night was suspected of SARS. Her tests at the Hong Kong Adventist Hospital (HKAH), from which she was transferred, had shown positive results.
Preliminary tests conducted by PMH and Department of Health (DH) laboratories yesterday, however, proved to be negative for the coronavirus.
"The case is not a 'suspected SARS' case. Therefore, there is no cause for alarm," Lam Ping-yan, director of health, said at a press conference yesterday.
The woman has not travelled outside Hong Kong recently. She was admitted to HKAH on September 10 with shortness of breath. She stayed in an isolation ward the following day and was transferred to PMH on September 15. She is now under medical observation in an isolation ward and is listed in stable condition.
The patient's family members are all in good health.
Yeoh Eng-kiong, secretary for health, welfare and food, told reporters yesterday morning that medical authorities are continuing preventive measures to deal with any possible resurgence of SARS. A number of beds with isolation facilities will be in place in PMH by the end of this month, and a total of 1,290 beds will be made available in the coming months.
In Beijing, Director of the Beijing Municipal Tourism Bureau Yu Changjiang told China Daily yesterday that officials will take quick action if visitors to Beijing show symptoms of SARS.
"We have already established an emergency system, which keeps a close eye on tourists' health during their trips in the capital," he said.
"Tourists that are suspected of being SARS cases will be immediately isolated and reported to the disease control authorities," Yu said.
"Measures to prevent the epidemic from spreading through travel will be strictly enforced by efforts of travel agencies, hotels, restaurants and scenic site administrative organizations," Yu said.
In another development, sources said the number of overseas travellers to Beijing in August this year was half that of the same month last year.
Yu said fear of the epidemic still exists in countries, such as Japan, the source of many visitors to Beijing. It could affect the overseas tourist market during this and coming months.
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