Thu, May 08, 2003 - Page 5 News List

Rate of infections down in Singapore


A Singapore health official said yesterday that if the city-state sees no more new cases of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) for another 10 days it can declare its outbreak under control.

Also yesterday, Singapore lowered its SARS death toll by one -- from 28 down to 27 -- after post mortem tests on a patient failed to detect the virus that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome.

Chew Suok Kai, disease control director at the Health Ministry, said the last reported SARS patient in Singapore began showing symptoms of the illness 11 days ago and was admitted to hospital the next day.

Since no new cases have emerged in connection to the 37-year-old man, who caught the illness from his brother and was under home quarantine when he fell ill, officials are cautiously optimistic that the outbreak is ending.

The World Health Organization requires no new SARS infections for 20 days -- double the disease's incubation period -- for it to lift travel advisories and declare that an outbreak is no longer spreading.

If in another ten days there are still no new cases, Singapore will be able to declare its outbreak under control, Chew said.

The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on Tuesday downgraded its warning on Singapore from a travel alert to a travel advisory, according to its Web site.

Bey Mui Leng, a Health Ministry spokeswoman, said yesterday that a 65-year-old man died from organ failure rather than SARS, as originally believed. Tests on the body failed to detect the SARS virus.

She did not provide any further details.

The number of people infected in Singapore remained at 204.

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