SLUG: 2-304435 CQ Taiwan SARS (L)
TITLE=CQ TAIWAN SARS (L)
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INTRO: The World Health Organization has removed its SARS-related travel advisory on Taiwan, but the advice to avoid visiting Beijing remains in place. V-O-A's Katherine Maria reports from Kuala Lumpur, where a W-H-O conference aimed at tackling Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome is underway.
TEXT: The World Health Organization says Taiwan's outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome is under control and it has lifted its travel warning.
The news came during a W-H-O conference in Kuala Lumpur where more than a thousand health experts are meeting to discuss ways to prevent the spread of the new virus that causes SARS.
Taiwan Center for Disease Control Director General Dr. Su Ih-jen says Taiwan's full cooperation with the U-N agency helped it control the disease.
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We have the C-D-C and W-H-O experts in Taiwan. We communicate daily. The data is entirely open and we did not cover or hide anything.
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Taiwan, whose outbreak started weeks after similar outbreaks in the region had peaked, now reports the world's third-largest number of infections, with almost 700 SARS cases and at least 80 deaths.
Despite fewer new infections in China, the W-H-O advice to avoid Beijing remains in effect. The Chinese capital is the only place in Asia with a SARS-related travel advisory.
China's vice health minister Gao Xiang told the conference that his country has paid a heavy price for its fragmented and inadequate healthcare system. He said China had lost a lot and learned a lot, and that Beijing has moved to upgrade its disease surveillance and infection control measures.
W-H-O officials acknowledge that SARS outbreaks are fading and say international cooperation helped contain the disease.
At the same time, Hitoshi Oshitani, a W-H-O regional adviser, says most countries still need better preparedness.
SARS has claimed about 800 lives out of more than eight-thousand people infected. (SIGNED)
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