City cracks down on spitting
The southern Chinese city of Guangzhou has dispatched 1,000 sanitary workers to patrol the streets for people spitting in an effort to curb the spread of SARS, state media said yesterday. Individuals found spitting will be slapped with a fine of up to 50 yuan (US$6) and ordered to clean up their mess, the Xinhua news agency said. The move by Guangzhou, one of the areas worst-hit by SARS in China, is designed to help local residents cultivate good habits and prevent the transmission of SARS, a local government official said.
Prison visits banned
China has banned family visits to prisoners as part of a series of stringent measures to keep SARS out of the country's jails, state media said yesterday. Inmates will be allowed more phone calls home to compensate for the Ministry of Justice order, the Xinhua news agency said. Not a single SARS case has been found in China's prisons so far, the report said, but authorities are not taking any chances. They are aware the disease could spread quickly in prisons as inmates are kept in close quarters.
Doctors sent on mission
Two Japanese doctors left for Beijing yesterday on a six-day mission to help China's battle against SARS. The two infectious disease experts from the International Medical Center of Japan will focus on curbing infections inside hospitals, said Hiroshi Ohara, the doctor heading the mission. They will be joined by a Foreign Ministry official and another from the Japan International Cooperation Agency. Tokyo sent a medical team to SARS-hit Vietnam from mid-March to April, but this is the first Japanese mission to China since the outbreak started.
SARS plan launched
Macau has launched an emergency anti-SARS plan after the former Portuguese colony reported its first confirmed SARS case eight weeks after the deadly respiratory disease struck Hong Kong. The first SARS infection was confirmed on Saturday by Macau's Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture Fernando Chui Sai-on. Macau's first confirmed SARS patient was admitted to hospital last Thursday when he was diagnosed with bronchitis. Follow up tests showed the man was suffering from a form of pneumonia. Samples of the patient's respiratory secretions and faeces were sent to Hong Kong on Friday for tests and were returned Saturday showing he had tested positive for the atypical pneumonia, the Sunday Morning Post reported.
Expert urges restrictions
A leading Thai doctor fears the worst is yet to come regarding a possible SARS outbreak in Thailand and warned against promoting tourist arrivals from affected areas like China and Hong Kong, a report said yesterday. Somsak Lolekha, the president of the Medical Council of Thailand, said the government should bar visitors from China, Hong Kong and Taiwan until the outbreak of SARS is under better control, and particularly during the approaching wet season when spread of disease intensifies. "If we continue to allow passengers from all destinations to enter the country freely, it will become more difficult to control the disease," Somsak told the Nation newspaper.
Roh leaves for US
South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun departed yester-day for a high-stakes visit to the US aimed at patching up strained relations and forging common policies to halt North Korea's nuclear programs. On Wednesday, Roh is scheduled to meet President George W. Bush, whose hawkish stance on North Korea has clashed with Seoul's efforts to embrace Pyongyang after decades of Cold War enmity. The trip is Roh's first visit to the US as well as his first official overseas trip since taking power in February and it comes amid growing friction in the 50-year-old security alliance with Washington.