Mon, Dec 22, 2003 - Page 4 News List

Only two people remain on SARS risk watchlist

AFP , TAIPEI

Another 12 people who had close contact with a SARS patient have been cleared of risk of infection, a health official said yesterday, leaving only two on a watchlist for the highly contagious disease.

The 12 were removed from the SARS watchlist at midnight on Saturday after passing 10 days without displaying symptoms of SARS, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) said. Another 20 out of the 34 people on the list were removed on Friday.

Only the wife and father of the patient were still on the list and they must wait until Wednesday for the all-clear.

The news eased fears that the disease had returned to Taiwan, where it claimed the lives of 37 people before the World Health Organization declared it free of SARS on July 5.

"We're pretty optimistic about the control of the event," CDC deputy director Shih Wen-yi (施文儀) told reporters.

The patient, a 44-year-old army lieutenant colonel surnamed Chan, was in a stable condition at the Taipei Municipal Hoping Hospital, Shih said.

Tests on Friday backed up suspicions that Chan, a researcher, had caught the virus in his laboratory at the Institute of Preventive Medicine of the National Defense Medical Center on Dec. 6.

The patient developed a fever the day he returned from a trip to Singapore, where he had attended a seminar with five colleagues.

In Taiwan, 34 people who had had close contact with him, including family members, colleagues and people who had been sitting near him on the plane, were asked to monitor themselves for fever, an early symptom of SARS.

Singaporean authorities also placed under quarantine 74 people who had come into close contact with the victim during his stay in the city-state. The orders were lifted at midnight on Friday.

A health ministry spokeswo-man confirmed on Saturday that nobody had been diagnosed with SARS in Singapore. Other government officials said it was unlikely that the Taiwanese man had infected anyone in Singapore.

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