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U.S. Military Issues SARS Warning

Posted April. 08, 2003 22:08,   


As the number of people infected with SARS, or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, continues rising rapidly, U.S. Department of Defense issued a health warning to its troops stationed in Asia.

The death toll rose to 101 on April 8, with China, Singapore, Canada, Hong Kong reporting new SARS-related deaths. The SARS virus has spread to 14 apartment complexes in Tunmun District in Hong Kong, where the killer virus was first found in five local apartment complexes. In China, Beijing, Sanshi, Guangshi, Hunan, Shuzwan and Shanghai reported their first SARS victim.

The U.S. military authorities warned soldiers in hard-hit Asian countries to avoid crowded areas and contacts with infected people. The National Institute of Allergy and Infection Diseases began to conduct a study on vaccine and possible treatments.

˝The virus cannot be treated using existing antibiotics,˝ said Li Li Ming, director of NIAID. ˝Those who recovered from the syndrome were naturally cured.˝

As fear over the killer virus is growing, people in Beijing and Shanghai, big cities believed to be relatively safer, begin to suspect announcements from the authorities. Foreign residents have begun to leave the country.

The authorities in Beijing announced that 19 people are infected and four of them were killed, but rumors say that up to 60 are infected and 15 killed in a military hospital.

Four international schools in Shanghai, Shanghai American, Singaporean and Concodia and Shanghai Korean schools, decided to close their doors temporarily over SARS worries. French International School in Beijing also decided close its door for 10 days from April 8.

˝My parents called me and told me to come back,˝ said Jang Sun-young, a 28-year-old woman studying Chinese in Beijing Language School. ˝I will leave for Korea on April 9.˝

˝People have canceled their business trips to China,˝ said Lee Hyo-soo, head of Chinese branch of the Korea Trade Investment Promotion Agency in Shanghai. ˝Trade talks here have virtually ground to halt.˝

˝There has been no report of a Korean infected with SARS so far,˝ said Jun Eun-sook, health official in Korean Embassy to China. ˝We have set up an contingency team connecting Korean communities, merchants and students just in case.˝

Yoo-Sung Hwang Seung-Jin Kim yshwang@donga.com sarafina@donga.com