SLUG: 2-304430 Taiwan SARS (L)
TITLE=TAIWAN SARS (L)
///// MAY BE USED AS AN ALTERNATE TO "WHO SARS", CR2-304427 BY SCHLEIN. /////
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.
/// SU ACT ///
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.
/// GAO ACT IN MANDARIN, EST & FADE ///
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.
/// OSHITANI ACT ///
Each country still has to strengthen its capacity at a national and local level. and public health infrastructure. We also have to strengthen hospital infection controls. We should learn the lesson from the SARS to be prepared for other epidemics and potential pandemics.
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SARS has claimed about 800 lives out of more than eight-thousand people infected. (SIGNED)
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