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Lab Accident Blamed in Singapore SARS Case

THE WORLD

September 24, 2003|From Reuters

SINGAPORE — Investigators led by the World Health Organization said Tuesday that the world's first SARS case in three months was the result of an accident at a government-run laboratory in Singapore that was researching the disease.

A 27-year-old Singaporean medical student tested positive Sept. 9 for severe acute respiratory syndrome, initially baffling the government after the WHO declared the world's SARS outbreak over in July.

A panel of 11 experts from Singapore, the WHO and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the man had contracted SARS at an Environmental Health Institute lab where research on the virus is done and where the man had studied the West Nile virus.

Genome sequencing on the lab's strain of SARS coronavirus matched a sample from the researcher, the panel said in a 31-page report released by Singapore's health ministry.

It said safety standards were below those necessary for handling infectious diseases such as SARS, which killed more than 900 people worldwide this year, including 33 in Singapore.

The lab since has been closed.

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