Tue, Dec 30, 2003 - Page 4 News List

Scientist who contracted SARS given the all-clear, says Hoping Hospital

AP , TAIPEI

The 44-year-old military scientist suspected of catching the SARS virus while disposing of contaminated waste in a laboratory was discharged from hospital yesterday, 12 days after he tested positive for the virus.

The man was no longer contagious and was healthy enough to go home as of yesterday afternoon, said Hong Wei-ho (洪維河), spokesman for Taipei Municipal Hoping Hospital.

Hong said that the patient, identified only by his rank and surname, Lieutenant Colonel Chan (), still needed to rest so that his lungs could recover from the illness.

"His lungs have suffered some damage, so if he exercises vigorously, he'll lose his breath," Ho said.

According to a preliminary investigation, Chan might have been exposed to the virus on Dec. 6 while mishandling contaminated waste in his military laboratory, designed to contain some of the world's deadliest viruses.

Chan developed SARS symptoms on Dec. 10 -- the same day he returned from a three-day trip to Singapore.

But he waited a week before going to a hospital. Tests confirmed that he had the virus on Dec. 17.

Since Chan became sick, no one else here or in Singapore has tested positive for SARS, officials have said.

The military and health officials have declined to discuss whether Chan would be disciplined for any irregularities in his lab or for his reluctance to seek early treatment.

Officials have said they wanted to wait until he fully recovered before discussing his conduct.

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