Thu, May 15, 2003 - Page 1 News List

China's railway authorities use scanners in SARS fight

AP , BEIJING

Railway authorities in China installed thermal scanners at some train stations to check passengers for fevers and keep the disease from spreading over their vast rail networks.

"The infectious outbreak is our call to arms. Time is lives," said a front-page article in the newspaper Beijing Daily.

The number of SARS deaths worldwide rose yesterday to at least 588.

Scientists credited quarantines for breaking the chain of transmission in Hong Kong.

Chinese University of Hong Kong researchers say the territory's SARS outbreak is losing momentum and should dwindle by next month or July and die out no later than October.

But Singapore, which had hoped to deem itself SARS-free as early as this week, may have suffered a setback amid reports of a new possible outbreak at its largest mental health facility, officials said.

The most recent confirmed SARS case in Singapore was on April 27, and the World Health Organization (WHO) had said it would announce the city-state's outbreak was under control if there were no new cases 20 days after the last reported infection.

The WHO lifted its travel warning against Toronto on April 30 after it decided the city's health authorities had contained the disease sufficiently.

More than 7,500 cases of severe acute respiratory syndrome have been reported worldwide.

In addition to the two fatalities, Hong Kong also reported just nine new cases of the disease yesterday. The territory's new cases have been in the single digits for 11 straight days.

In Beijing, the city government said its economic losses were estimated at 450 million yuan (US$54 million) in the first four months of this year, with arrivals of foreign visitors down some 60 percent.

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