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THE WORLD

SARS Clearly in Decline, Officials Say

June 05, 2003|From Associated Press

BEIJING — For the first time since March 28, no deaths from the SARS virus were reported anywhere in the world Wednesday.

World health authorities said the highly contagious virus was clearly in decline, with outbreaks at all the initial hot zones in eastern Asia and Toronto either contained or coming under control.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lifted a SARS travel advisory for Hong Kong. Territory Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa today said that proved Hong Kong was recovering from the disease, which has killed 283 people there.

Taiwan had a day with no new SARS cases for the first time since an outbreak of the illness there in late April.

China, the hardest-hit nation, had its first day without reporting new cases or deaths since April. World Health Organization officials said evidence over the last two weeks indicates that China is succeeding in bringing its epidemic under control, but they said that the disease is by no means contained here.

"It's coming under control, but look at Toronto. You can be coming under control, and the next day you can be out of control again," said Mike Ryan, who heads the global SARS response network for the WHO.

Canadians had celebrated three weeks ago when the WHO removed Toronto from a list of the world's SARS hot spots, only to see a new cluster of cases pop up again. Worldwide, there have been at least 772 deaths out of a total of more than 8,400 probable SARS cases in 29 countries.

Ryan was cautious about drawing any conclusions from the fact that China reported no new cases or deaths.

"We can't say anything based on one day," he said. "We are going back now and talking to the Chinese to try to make sure that their surveillance is very sensitive and they are not missing things.... It is very encouraging, but we have to be sure."

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