Taiwan has announced 12 new deaths from the Sars virus, and a top health official warned there was worse to come.
Taiwan has announced 12 new deaths from the Sars virus, and a top health official warned there was worse to come. Taiwan’s death toll now stands at 52. Officials also announced 39 new cases, a new daily record which takes the number of probable cases to 383. Almost a quarter of the island’s cases have been recorded since Sunday. The latest outbreak, in Taiwan’s southern city of Kaohsiung, could cause more infections, warned Lee Ming-liang, head of the Sars Control Committee. “The new wave has yet to peak,” he said. However, officials said the big jump in cases announced was partly because they did not release any new figures on Monday, which came after a holiday on Sunday. Hospital workers in Taiwan have been particularly affected. Two doctors and four nurses have died from the virus while an estimated 500 staff from various hospitals have been placed under quarantine. Doctors and nurses have complained that the authorities have failed to provide them with adequate protective clothing and safeguards. HOTSPOTS: KNOWN DEATH TOLLS Mainland China: 289Hong Kong: 251Taiwan: 52 Singapore: 28 Canada: 23 Source: WHO/local health authoritiesGlobal update The flu-like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome has killed about 662 people worldwide and infected more than 7,800 people – mostly in Asia – since it emerged in southern China in November. The World Health Organization (WHO) has refused to give Taiwan observer status at its annual assembly, despite Taipei’s protests that the exclusion limited its fight against Sars. China, which views the self-governing island as a renegade province, strongly opposed Taiwan’s application. Chinese Vice-President and Minister of Health Wu Yi said Taiwan’s proposal was “unlawful”. A senior WHO official said Taiwan had not suffered in the fight against Sars by being sidelined. “We have worked with Taiwan since the first day,” said David Heymann, head of WHO’s communicable disease unit. China ‘under-reporting’ Epidemiologists from 16 Sars-hit regions agreed that most of the world’s outbreaks are coming under control – although difficult struggles remain, especially in mainland China and Taiwan. But WHO Director-General Gro Harlem Brundtland said that there was still much work to be done. “The battle is not yet won. We must be vigilant,” she told delegates on the first day of the WHO’s general assembly in Geneva. China reported five new deaths on Tuesday and 17 cases – taking the country’s death toll to 294. The reported number of Sars cases has been steadily dropping in China in recent days, but the WHO said this was because doctors were misdiagnosing mild cases. In Hong Kong, officials on Tuesday said another two people had died of the illness and four more people had been infected. (Source: BBC, Tuesday, 20 May, 2003, 12:57 GMT 13:57 UK)