Wednesday, April 02, 2003

SARS update

These were the figures according to the BBC today:

China 1190 cases (46 deaths)
Hong Kong 685 (16)
Singapore 92 (4)
Vietnam 58 (4)
Canada 129 (6)

Taking Hong Kong as an example, that's 0.01 percent of the population who have had it or have it. Of these, less than three percent have died, presumably more vulnerable people. BBC News suggests that most people have recovered after a week. As a comparison, in 2001 there were 7,262 cases of tuberculosis in Hong Kong with 311 deaths. As such, TB is clearly a much more serious problem long-term. It is simply the novelty of SARS that gives it such attention.The bigger problem is the panic attached to it, particularly in Hong Kong, where people are wearing paper masks quite commonly (which are useless), avoiding the streets etc.

Here is a list of some of the other responses to SARS:

  • 100 families from an effected apartment block have been moved by the Hong Kong government to 'holiday camps'. (UK Independent)

  • The Thai government has forced foreigners from SARS-effected regions to wear face masks at all times or face a jail sentence. Thais returning home from these regions must stay at home for 14 days. (Go Asia Pacific News)

  • Concern over SARS has led to jammed emergency rooms at Vancouver General Hospital and Children's Hospital with what the Vancouver chief medical officer calls the 'worried well'. Air Canada has reduced its flights to Hong Kong from 14 per week to nine.(Vancouver Sun)

  • The Australian government is demanding that all flight crews check passengers for signs of illness before allowing disembarkation. (ABC News Online) It also advised its citizens not to travel to Canada and Asian countries hit by the virus, and to wear face masks while travelling. (Express India)

  • SARS is a threat to the New Zealand economy, although there are no cases there as yet. (New Zealand Herald)

  • Microchip manufacturer Intel has cancelled major events in Taipei and Beijing. (Forbes) Also cancelled are concerts by the Rolling Stones and Santana. (Yahoo! Music)

HK Department of Health tuberculosis figures
Travel warning over deadly bug, BBC News, 2 April 2003


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