PETALING JAYA: The World Health Organisation (WHO) has lifted the travel advisory against Taiwan but not for China and Hong Kong.
The overall global Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) situation is improving but it is still too early to say if the travel advisories against the two countries would be lifted within a specific timeframe.
WHO Western Pacific Region director Dr Shigeru Omi, in making the announcement yesterday, described measures taken by Taiwan to control the spread of SARS as effective and that the number of new and active cases was declining.
There was still a large number of new and active cases in China, Dr Omi told reporters at the sidelines of the WHO Global Meeting on SARS yesterday.
There were some cases in Beijing that could not be traced to known SARS cases and the WHO was working closely with the Chinese Government on that, he added.
Nevertheless, he said the declining number of cases in China reflected the reality of the SARS situation and level of transmission there.
Dr Omi added that Hong Kong and China would only be removed from the SARS-affected areas list, when they are clear of new cases for 20 consecutive days after the last case.
Chinese Vice Health Minister Gao Qiang told the WHO meeting that 4,656 of the 5,327 SARS cases or 87% of them had recovered while 346 had died since the disease was first reported in January.
“There was no new probable SARS case in China in the last 12 days,” Gao added.
Hong Kong had not seen any new SARS cases in the last five days, said Dr Yeoh Eng-Kiong who is Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food Bureau of the Hong Kong Health Department.
Earlier, Dr Omi said the SARS outbreak had exposed various weaknesses in the public health care infrastructure in the affected countries.
“This is one of the hard lessons that countries have to learn and the importance of having a good control system,” he said.
Dr Omi said the two-day conference would focus on how to improve control measures.
Conference quotesAsean must remember that we are more likely to be invaded by new microbes rather than by a foreign army. – Health Minister Datuk Chua Jui Meng when stressing on the need for Asean to bolster its defence against infectious and killer diseases like SARS
We must extract SARS out of our map. – Dr Yeoh Eng-Kiong, Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food Bureau of the Health Department of Hong Kong SAR (Special Administrative Region) on the stigma of being classified a SARS-affected country
We lost a lot and learnt a lot from this human tragedy. – Chinese Vice-Health Minister Gao Qiang on the socio-economic implications of SARS and steps taken to contain the disease
We trace every contact within 24 hours and close the case within 48 hours because we are a small country with a small population. – Dr Tan Chorh-Chuan, director of medical services of the Singapore Ministry of Health, on the country’s efficiency in checking the spread of SARS
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