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Fifty-four checked for SARS in Manipal
May 10, 2003 20:47 IST
Nearly 54 people, who interacted with a chief executive officer of an Indo-Malaysian joint venture and whose blood sample tested positive for the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome virus, have been subjected to medical examination by health department authorities at Manipal.
Stating this, Karnataka SARS Nodal Officer Dr R K Kumaraswamy said, "It includes doctors and nurses who have interacted with the CEO during his stay, have been identified and their blood samples screened and X-ray taken by doctors."
He said authorities in Sikkim and Nepal have been informed to screen three doctors who were in contact with the CEO during their visit for a conference in Manipal and had gone to these locations on their work.
The CEO, who is also a medical practitioner, arrived from Malaysia with a transit halt in Sri Lanka last month and has been the first person to test positive for the SARS virus in Karnataka. Earlier on Friday 15 people, who had come in contact with the CEO, were subjected to tests.
Kumaraswamy said the CEO, who is quarantined at his house, has been asked to remain indoors till a second report from the Pune-based National Institute of Virology is received next week.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation said on Saturday that Beijing's data on Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome has some serious 'holes' as officials have yet to explain how half of the patients caught the illness.
WHO Spokeswoman Mangai Balasegaram was reported as saying that a lot of vital data is missing and therefore premature to say the situation in Beijing is improving as some local officials have suggested.
The ministry of health said five more people succumbed to SARS and another 85 were infected, taking the cumulative national death toll to 235 and the number of cases to 4,884.
The government decided to temporarily waive or reduce the tax burden on service sector industries even as Russia stopped direct flights and closed its border with China fearing an outbreak of the killer epidemic.
The reduction, effective from May 1 to September 30, 2003, involves over a dozen categories of fees levied both by the central and local governments, the state development and reform commission said in a press release.
The beneficiaries include restaurants, hotels, trading markets, and tourism, entertainment, civil aviation, road transportation, water transportation, taxi and bus industries.
The Hong Kong special administrative region of China reported seven new cases and two more deaths during the last 24 hours, the toll now standing at 212 since March 12.
In Taiwan, officials announced 23 news cases as WHO warned that the spread of the virus was serious in Taipei.
WHO experts who had been to northern China's Hebei province, that surrounds Beijing, have inspected many rural health facilities in an effort to bolster the province's ability to face a possible surge in cases of SARS.
James Magurie, a WHO expert, said that he became more confident about China's ability to curb the disease in its vast rural areas after seeing that there are very rigorous strategies in place to combat the virus.
In a related development, a senior analyst with the national SARS prevention and treatment team, Yao Keqin said that the number of SARS cases on the Chinese mainland is on a steady, yet fluctuating decline trend.
Chinese Defence Minister General Cao Gangchuan has urged 1,200 military professionals in Beijing's Xiaotangshan SARS hospital, the world's largest SARS facility, to remain steadfast in their posts and to carry on the tenacious struggle against the epidemic to complete their mission.