Virus coming under control


SINGAPORE: Singapore, hit by the world's third-highest number of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) deaths, showed signs of containing the virus after no new infections were reported over the weekend until yesterday. 

A 27-year-old man has become the republic's 27th victim of SARS, the Ministry of Health said yesterday. 

The latest victim was the son of a vegetable trader who had died on April 12 from the virus, it said in a statement. 

SPOILT: A Pasir Panjang market worker walking past a pile of potatoes gone bad Monday. Most of the workers returned to find their wholesale goods in bad condition. -- APpic

The ministry also reported one new infection, involving a 74-year-old woman.  

The government said the battle was far from over. Thus far, SARS has killed 27 of the 204 Singaporeans infected, a fatality rate of 12.8%, more than double the global average. 

But after quarantining thousands of seemingly healthy people in their homes, Singapore reported only four new cases last week – the smallest number since the epidemic began in March. 

“Our biggest danger now is ... to relax the efforts which we have put in,” Deputy Prime Minister Tony Tan said. 

Authorities reopened the sprawling Pasir Panjang wholesale market yesterday. It was shut on April 19 with all of its 2,400 workers and family contacts quarantined after several contracted the virus there. 

But the once-bustling 24-hour warehouse-style market has been transformed by its brush with SARS. 

Police wearing protective face masks take the temperature of all customers and workers entering the complex.  

Health declaration forms must be filled out at screening stations and business has slowed. 

“People are not coming in,” sighed Alfred Lee, who has managed a dry goods shop in the market for three years. – Reuters/AFP  

  • Another perspective from The Straits Times, a partner of Asia News Network. 

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