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Sunday, May 11, 2003

On the Level With Sars

While it's still too soon to be definitive, the curve certainly does seem to be flattening out. Still, as the WHO say, caution is important since they still don't know the source of contact for half of the new probable cases in Beijing. All of which is still good news since they just decided the thing is much deadlier than previously reported. Don't fall for the move that this was all a lot of fuss about nothing. If it came, and went, quickly, then this is just another example of Kursweil's (and Edward's?) acceleration law: you know things getting faster faster. It came and went in the flash of an eye. But don't be deceived, if the thing had taken a bad 'branching path' on it's trajectory (especially on the mutation front) we wouldn't be feeling so happy right now.It could have been a very close call. We simply haven't come to terms with the Gibbs Principle , which, roughly speaking and adapted to the occasion states: if there are more of us on the planet (plus more animals to feed us) and we are doing more things more quickly, then the potential quantity of 'negative system events' is also, like the proverbial bad moon, rising:

China has reported 85 new probable cases of SARS today, including 54 new cases in Beijing, and 5 new deaths. China now has a cumulative total of 4884 probable cases, with 235 deaths.

Beijing remains the most severely affected area in mainland China, with a cumulative total of 2227 probable cases and 116 deaths. Since the beginning of this month, Beijing has reported 862 new probable cases and 41 deaths. The largest number of cases for this month occurred on 1 May, when Beijing reported 122 new cases and 7 deaths.

Although today’s figures are lower, WHO officials in Beijing have cautioned against any clear conclusions that the SARS outbreak has begun to decline in the city. Many factors that influence the outbreak’s future evolution remain unknown. For example, half of all new probable cases in the city do not have any recorded previous contact with a SARS patient. Knowledge about the source of transmission for all SARS cases contributes to understanding of the dynamics of the outbreak and assists in its containment.WHO officials will be working with Beijing authorities to improve data analysis and develop policy options for responding to the outbreak. The lack of known contact to a SARS patient among the more recently reported cases could be related to either how cases are being reported or how and where the virus is being transmitted.

As of today, a cumulative total of 7296 probable SARS cases with 526 deaths have been reported from 30 countries. This represents an increase of 119 cases and 12 deaths when compared with yesterday. Most of the new cases were reported in China (85) and Taiwan, China (23). The new deaths occurred in China (8), Hong Kong SAR (2), and Taiwan, China (5).
Source: WHO Update

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