- HONG KONG (Reuters) - The
SARS virus can survive for as long as three days on plastered walls, glass,
plastic and other surfaces, Hong Kong researchers said on Friday.
- The findings, in a study from the Chinese University
of Hong Kong, are based on samples taken from a hospital with SARS patients.
- The university, in a statement, said the virus that causes
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome could survive for 72 hours on surfaces
such as stainless steel, plastered walls, glass, plastic and formica in
a hospital setting.
- The findings come as Hong Kong said SARS had infected
four more people in the city. The victims were believed to have caught
the disease from SARS patients in the same hospitals.
- SARS has killed 274 people in Hong Kong since the epidemic
began in March and infected 1,736. The virus surfaced in southern China
late last year and has been spread around the world by air travelers.
- Asked about the study's findings, WHO spokesman Iain
Simpson said in Geneva: "It is very difficult to give it a specific
length of time because it varies from surface to surface and even place
- "It is, I think, slightly longer than we have seen
before but it is not particularly surprising."
- Doctors worry that the long life of the virus outside
a host would make infections easier.
- Many of those who recently caught the disease in the
city are believed to have picked it up from other hospital patients before
the latter showed obvious SARS symptoms.
- "Preventive precautions are adequate in SARS wards.
The worry is other wards with no suspected cases, or so called 'invisible
cases'," Sydney Chung, Dean of the university's Faculty of Medicine,
told a news conference.
- "The elderly people sometimes can have SARS and
show no typical symptoms, not even fever. Those are dangerous situations,"
he said, urging hospital workers in all wards to take full precautions.
- The latest findings come after the World Health Organization
said earlier this month the SARS virus could live for days in the stool
and urine of patients.
- In a separate development, Deputy Director of Health
Leung Pak-yin said that Hong Kong, Macau and the neighboring Chinese province
of Guangdong were planning to return visitors found to have SARS symptoms
at immigration points to their area of origin to prevent the three areas
from exporting the illness.
- He said the three sides were talking about details of
- Leung was speaking after the first meeting on SARS among
medical officials and experts from Hong Kong, Guangdong and nearby Macau.
- He said the three sides agreed to extend the present
mechanism on information exchange and to include in it other infectious
diseases alongside SARS.
- On Friday, China said a ban on travel by Guangdong citizens
to Hong Kong will be lifted from June 1.
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