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Tuesday, April 08, 2003

SARS is Getting Preoccupying

It's not my intention to scare-monger, but the SARS situation seems to be deteriorating daily. This news from Hong Kong is not reassuring. For those, like me, who mugged up a bit on epidemiological theory back in the 'mad cow' BSE/nvCJD alert days, the bit about clustering, the housing block where many people are affected quickly, is the one that rings the alarm bells. Remember mobile phones, and all you ever read about viral marketing. The economic consequences of this are more or less plain to see (even if we don't yet know the extent of the damage), but it's the human part that bothers me most.

The deadly SARS virus showed signs of spreading to a new part of Hong Kong on Tuesday. There are signs that the disease was spreading in the district of Tuen Mun, where a hospital is treating dozens of SARS patients. Fourteen people in the town had contracted the disease, up from five late last week. Government officials were not immediately available for comment. The death toll in the territory has increased to 23, with the total number of people infected at 883. About half of the 278 people infected in the Amoy Gardens estate come from a single block and authorities are still investigating how they were all infected in a matter of days. Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) has been carried around the world by travellers, killing more than 100 people and infecting more than 2,600 in 20 countries. The disease has mostly hit Asia but it has killed at least 10 people in Canada, where it is concentrated in Toronto's large Chinese immigrant population. India reported its first suspected case of the virus, involving a US citizen who fell ill after travelling to Bombay from China. World Health Organisation experts are now in China's southern Guangdong province, where the disease first surfaced in November.
Source: Channel News Asia

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