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SLUG: 2-303146 Asia SARS (L-O)









INTRO: The World Health Organization says it might be close to canceling an advisory against travel to Hong Kong, which has been hard hit by Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. While the number of new cases remains low, Hong Kong announced the loss of a second health-care worker to the disease. V-O-A's Katherine Maria reports.

TEXT: The World Health Organization says it might be more flexible on the criteria for lifting the travel advisory against Hong Kong.

Peter Cordingley is the Asia Pacific spokesman for the agency.


The mood has changed in the W-H-O. They see Hong Kong now getting quite close to the travel advisory being lifted so what was left in the air yesterday was that none of the specific criteria should be a problem. W-H-O is much more interested in the situation in general in Hong Kong and an overall picture of weather the outbreak is under control.

/// END ACT ///

The warning against travel to Hong Kong came in mid-March as SARS began to spread. It prompted tourists and business travelers to avoid the territory, and airlines, hotels, and retail businesses have suffered immensely as a result.

Hong Kong responded to the W-H-O's comments by promising to maintain a strict watch on where, when, and how new infections arise.

Margaret Chan is the city's health director.

/// CHAN ACT ///

I think it is important for us to continue our measures and not only to convince the World Health Organization to lift the travel advisory. ut it is also important to protect the health of the community.

/// END ACT ///

/// OPT /// The U-N agency said previously the city must report no more than five new cases each day for several consecutive days - and that the number of patients under treatment be no more than 60.

The number of new cases has remained close to five for the past three days. Tuesday there were six new infections, bringing the total to almost 17-hundred.

But the number of deaths, seven on Tuesday, is still a matter of great concern here, especially after a second health care worker lost her battle with SARS. /// END OPT ///

Doctor Tse Yeun Man, who fell ill in early April, died Tuesday. She had been treating some of the same patients that a nurse who died earlier had treated. Some experts have speculated that certain patients might have contracted a more deadly strain of the virus. Hong Kong has now reported 225 deaths.

/// REST OPT ///

Elsewhere, Taiwan reported 13 new cases of SARS and one more death. The authorities there say SARS has struck more than 220 people, of whom 25 have died.

The disease, which causes serious pneumonia, has now afflicted almost 75-hundred people worldwide, and more than 550 have died. (SIGNED)


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