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Singapore Reports SARS; WHO Reserves Judgment

September 09, 2003|From Associated Press

SINGAPORE — The government of Singapore said today that a man had tested positive for SARS but that it was awaiting a second lab result, and the World Health Organization said it was too soon to consider the "suspected" case the first sign of a renewed outbreak.

If confirmed, the case would mark the return of severe acute respiratory syndrome, which killed more than 900 people worldwide after it first emerged in November in China. More than 8,400 people were sickened before the WHO declared in June that the disease had been "stopped dead in its tracks."

In the Philippines, WHO spokesman Peter Cordingley said today that the patient was a 27-year-old Singaporean hospital laboratory technician.

Cordingley said the man's lungs had no signs of inflammation associated with SARS, although he had a fever and rash. The WHO is calling the man a suspected, not a probable, SARS case.

Cordingley said Singapore officials had already traced people who were in contact with the man, "and none of them is sick."

By the WHO's definition of a probable case, there must be at least two SARS patients reported in the same hospital environment.

The man had visited three wards at Singapore General Hospital, the local Straits Times newspaper reported. Several blocks at the sprawling facility were sealed off. Visitors were required to wear facemasks and be screened for fever upon entering the hospital.

Health Ministry spokeswoman Bey Mui Leng said the man's condition was detected by screening measures put in place at the illnesses' peak here. He has been isolated at Tan Tock Seng Hospital, the country's dedicated SARS facility.

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