Monday, April 7, 2003, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Top UN official dies of SARS

Beijing, April 6
A top UN official today died of the lethal severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in China, taking the death toll to 51 even as hundreds of fresh cases were reported, official statistics said.

The number of patients affected by SARS hit 1,247 by April 5 on China’s mainland, of whom 51 had died, said an official with China’s Ministry of Health.

The dead included Mr Pekka Aro, an Finnish official with the International Labour Organisation, the state-run Xinhua News agency quoted Qi Xiaoqiu, an official of the Ministry’s Department of Disease Control, as saying here.

Mr Pekka Aro (53) arrived in Beijing from Thailand on March 23 to attend an international labour conference. He was hospitalised with high fever, Qi said.

The number of SARS cases increased by 57 in China during the past four days, including five deaths.

“New cases mostly occurred in Guangdong province,” Qi said.

The number of confirmed infections in Beijing had also risen to 19 from 12, Qi said. It was not clear if the Finnish was included in the tally of 51 nationwide.

The additional deaths and cases of SARS came as five experts from the World Health Organisation are currently touring the worst-affected Guangdong province in South China to probe the causes of SARS, which is thought to have originated there. PTI


India to screen air passengers
Tribune News Service and PTI

New Delhi, April 6
Union Health Minister Sushma Swaraj today said all air passengers, including those accompanying the Singaporean Prime Minister and the Sri Lankan President, scheduled to visit India shortly, would have go through the screening process in the wake of the outbreak of SARS in several countries.

Speaking to newspersons after a high-level meeting to review the situation, Mrs Swaraj said all air passengers disembarking in the country would be asked to fill in a form, indicating the countries they had travelled in the last seven days.

Responding to a specific query whether the same rules would apply to delegations accompanying the Singaporean Prime Minister and the Sri Lankan President, she said: “Naturally, they will have to fill in the form. Anybody and everybody”. The minister said though not a single case had so far been reported in India, “We cannot take any risk as the disease has been spreading to the USA and the UK”.

She said some rooms had been identified for isolated treatment in three Central Government hospitals — the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences, the Safdarjung Hospital and the Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital.

Mrs Swaraj said, Indian Missions had been asked to send an advisory to passengers not to undertake a journey if they had some symptoms of such a disease.

Air crew of different airlines had also been asked to take such passengers to the medical officers after disembarking, she said, adding that the Director-General of Health Services had been asked to make available medical officers so as to strengthen medical services at airports.Back

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