Travel warning to all of Taiwan

TAIPEI: The World Health Organisation extended its SARS travel warning to all of Taiwan yesterday, and even as the disease retreated in many other places US experts said new outbreaks could erupt in the months ahead. 

China reported 12 new cases of infection yesterday and Hong Kong reported one. They also announced only two deaths each – among the lowest daily tolls since the disease was first reported in November. There was one more death in Singapore. 

WHO removed the Philippines from a list of countries with recent local transmissions of SARS and praised the government for preventing the spread of the disease, which has killed 667 worldwide. 

Yet Taiwan reported 35 new SARS cases and said its epidemic had yet to peak. The UN health agency said it was advising travellers to avoid the whole island, extending advice that previously only related to the capital.  

In Washington, experts testifying before the US Congress yesterday predicted that the epidemic would return later this year. 

Michael Osterholm, an infectious disease expert at the University of Minnesota, predicted more cases would appear next winter, spread from developing parts of the world where diseases were not well contained. 

In China, WHO experts fear that summer floods could push water laced with sewage into homes and spread infection. 

The SARS virus can be brought under control, a senior WHO official said yesterday, while admitting that the body could have been quicker in responding to the outbreak. WHO virologist Mark Salter said in London there were two simple ways to control the virus – by early detection of new cases and by having good surveillance systems everywhere in the world.  

WHO yesterday officially named South Korean doctor Jong Wook Lee as the head of the UN health agency to replace Norway's Gro Harlem Brundtland. – AP/AFP  

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