- HONG KONG (Reuters) - Hong
Kong, fearing a killer pneumonia virus was spreading among schoolchildren,
shut a school on Friday and said three others would be disinfected over
the weekend, a government spokesman said.
- "Now that the virus is in schools, this may just
explode. Schools are so congested and children don't know how to take precautions.
If they even suspect an infection, they must close the schools," said
one mother, Olivia Lo.
- Hong Kong's health chief Yeoh Eng-Kiong said six children
were now infected in the territory, up from five on Thursday.
- Anxious parents in Hong Kong called up schools on Friday
to demand what safety measures were being taken. More children are now
being sent to school with surgical masks.
- All six children are believed to have been infected by
family members working in hospitals, where most of the infections in the
crowded territory took place. The youngest is two years old.
- More schools are likely to be closed for cleaning in
coming days if infections rise. The government, in a step to reassure parents,
is shutting any school for disinfecting when there are confirmed cases
of the virus among students.
- The World Health Organization said for the first time
that infections in the city may be linked to an earlier outbreak in mainland
- More evidence has emerged to show that the disease most
likely started in southern China, where over 300 were treated and at least
five died, creating world concern about a disease spread by air travelers.
- The World Health Organization has issued its first global
alert in a decade over the deadly disease, called severe acute respiratory
syndrome. Health officials are still trying to identify the virus, making
- More than 300 people in at least 10 other countries have
been put into hospital, many of them in intensive care.
- China has repeatedly distanced itself from infections
- WHO officials in Beijing, however, said on Friday that
the outbreak in Hong Kong could be linked to those in southern China.
- "The Hong Kong cases seem to be linked to the mainland,"
said Henk Bekedam, the WHO representative in Beijing, although he noted
that the link was not scientifically proven.
- Almost all confirmed infections are in Hong Kong, Vietnam,
Singapore and Canada and most of them are believed to be linked to a doctor
from China's southern Guangdong province, who treated patients in China,
before dying from the disease.
- Hong Kong authorities believe he infected seven guests
staying on the same floor of a Hong Kong hotel, where he was staying. They
spread it elsewhere.
- In Hong Kong, the number of infections climbed on Friday
to 197. Almost all have full-blown pneumonia and 38 patients are in critical
- The illness begins with a high fever, dry cough, chills,
and severe breathing difficulties. A healthy and athletic adult can end
up on a respirator within five days.
- So rife is the concern that France and Italy have withdrawn
from the annual Hong Kong Sevens rugby tournament, which begins next week.
- The World Health Organization said answers may be forthcoming
after experts identified the virus as being part of the paramyxovirus family,
the same that causes measles and mumps.
- "WHO is increasingly optimistic conclusive identification
of the causative agent can be announced soon. The development of a precise
diagnostic test could follow quickly," it said.
- Five WHO experts will arrive in Beijing on Sunday where
they will review laboratory data on the virus and study treatments being
used with Chinese experts, WHO representatives told reporters in Beijing.
- There appeared to be some improvement in Vietnam, where
there are 53 patients. A health ministry spokesman said 18 patients have
recovered, and five will be discharged soon.
- Thirteen patients in 10 U.S. states are being treated
as doctors there try to determine if they are infected.
- Singapore's Ministry of Health said on Friday five more
patients have been diagnosed with the highly contagious strain, bringing
the number of people afflicted to 39. Seven are in serious condition. Three
have recovered and been discharged.
- (Reporting by Carrie Lee, Ho Binh Minh, Jacqueline Wong)