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SARS Outbreak Appears to be Contained in Hong Kong - 2003-05-19

Hong Kong has reported just one new case of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or sARS, bringing new confidence that the outbreak will soon fade out, and the WHO travel warning about the city will end. But Singapore also reported a new case after having gone 19 days without a new patient.

For weeks, Hong Kong has seen the SARS toll mount steadily, but the city reported just one new case.

The city has the world's second-largest outbreak, with 1,714 cases and 251 deaths. Four of those deaths occurred Monday.

Officials from Beijing are joining Hong Kong leaders in trying to convince the rest of the world the city is once again safe to visit. China's minister of health, Wu Yi, is attending the World Health Assembly in Geneva.

Ms. Wu urged the World Health Organization to roll back its travel advisory on Hong Kong, which went into effect in mid-March. However, she warned that unless the public remains vigilant, there could be more outbreaks of SARS in China, where the disease is thought to have originated.

Government figures show the outbreak in China is on the decline, with reports of just 12 new cases and five deaths on Monday. Nationwide, SARS has killed 289 people in China, and there have been more than 5,200 cases in the country.

In its effort to keep SARS from hitting rural areas, Beijing said it will make all passengers fill out health forms guaranteeing they were SARS-free before travel.

Lo Fu-chuan, Taipei's representative to Japan, apologized after health authorities discovered that a Taiwanese doctor became ill with SARS while visiting Japan.

SARS continues to pose a serious health threat to Taiwan. There are more than 340 victims in Taiwan, and at least 40 people have died. Officials warn the outbreak has yet to be brought under control.

Meanwhile, Epidemiologists in Singapore are investigating the latest SARS case there, a 39-year-old man who frequently traveled to Malaysia. The man was confirmed as the city's 206th SARS victim after Singapore had gone 19 days with no new cases and was just hours shy of being declared free of SARS.

Twenty-eight people have died in the outbreak there.

Worldwide, SARS has infected more than 7,700 people. At least 620 people have died of the disease, which causes a serious form of pneumonia.