A hospital boss has been sacked in Taiwan following a mass transmission of SARS as the island struggles with a record jump in infections.
A hospital boss has been sacked in Taiwan following a mass transmission of SARS as the island struggles with a record jump in infections. Health authorities reported 23 new infections – the highest daily rise since the first case of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome was recorded in Taiwan two months ago. Taiwan reported at least six more deaths from SARS on Monday – one of them in the southern city of Kaohsiung, indicating that the disease was spreading from the north. On the Chinese mainland, there have been more than 5,000 SARS cases and 252 deaths – including 12 deaths reported on Monday. But official figures show a declining infection rate. In Hong Kong – the second worst-hit area – the number of new SARS cases has levelled off to about five a day. About 250,000 primary school students resumed classes there on Monday after a six-week closure to prevent the spread of SARS. HOTSPOTS: KNOWN DEATH TOLLS Mainland China: 252Hong Kong: 218Singapore: 28 Canada: 23 Taiwan: 24(Source: WHO/local health authorities)The authorities in Taiwan have sealed off a Taipei housing estate amid suspicions that some residents might have SARS, and troops have been disinfecting the capital. The president of Taipei’s Hoping Hospital, Wu Kang-wen, was sacked amid allegations that he and at least one other doctor had misdiagnosed SARS patients or covered up infections. Mr Wu is believed to be the first Taiwanese health official to be sacked in connection with the outbreak. Political spat Taiwan on Monday accused China of blocking World Health Organization help to fight the disease. The WHO sent two doctors to Taiwan on 3 May – the first such move in 30 years. But China, which sees Taiwan as a renegade province, insists the island must not be admitted into the WHO. According to Joseph Wu, deputy secretary-general of the Taiwan Presidential Office, “China kept saying that Taiwan’s health is well under its care”. But, Mr Wu was quoted by Reuters as saying, this was a “shameless lie – as much a lie as the claim that there was no SARS problem in Beijing in early April”. In Hong Kong there is as yet no evidence that SARS spread through schools, but students are required to wear masks at all times and undergo daily temperature checks as a precaution, officials say. Secondary school students in Hong Kong have already been permitted to return to classes. But officials have delayed kindergarten children from attending school for at least another week, the Associated Press news agency reports. In other developments Another 4,000 people are put into quarantine in the Chinese capital, Beijing, raising the total to 23,000 Officials in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou send 1,000 sanitary workers into the streets to stop people spitting, in an effort to curb the spread of SARSA second “probable” case of SARS is reported in South Korea, after an elderly US citizen falls ill on a return flight from the Philippines The University of California at Berkeley reverses a decision to ban students from Hong Kong, China and Taiwan from attending summer school Spokesmen for the WHO have praised China’s recent efforts to contain SARS, but they say they still lack important information which would enable them to determine how the virus is moving through the Chinese population. The WHO has sent teams to three provinces as it tries to gauge just how fast the virus is spreading. Finnish case questioned On Monday Finland reported its first case of the illness after a man who had visited the Canadian city of Toronto fell ill. However health officials in Canada rejected the diagnosis, saying that their Finnish counterparts had jumped to conclusions. “Unless somebody managed to visit one of our hospitals despite the restrictions… they couldn’t have been exposed – it’s that blunt,” Ontario health commissioner Colin D’Cunha told AP. “I’m sure the [Finnish patient] had some respiratory symptoms and, simply put, was diagnosed with SARS because the person had spent some time in Toronto.”(Source: BBC online; Monday, 12 May, 2003, 15:00 GMT 16:00 UK)