Last updated at: (Beijing Time) Friday, June 13, 2003

WHO Sees SARS Nearing End, Lauds China's Drive

The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday the global SARS outbreak may be nearing an end and praised China's campaign against the virus.


The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday the global SARS outbreak may be nearing an end and praised China's campaign against the virus.

"In terms of the number of cases, we are seeing the end of the outbreak," Hitoshi Oshitani, the WHO regional adviser on communicable diseases, told reporters in Manila.

Oshitani said SARS was on the wane in the Chinese mainland, which has suffered more than 5,300 of the 8,435 cases worldwide.

She said WHO believe the outbreak is under control in the Chinese mainland, although SARS was "not completely under control in Taiwan."

David Heymann, the WHO executive director for communicable diseases, praised data health officials had shared during a 24-hour stop in Beijing, the city with the world's highest number of SARS cases.

"It's been informative, complete and reflects the huge effort that has been made by China to contain SARS. We are very grateful that we have this information now," he said but did not say when the UN body would lift a travel warning to Beijing and four surrounding areas.

Heymann came to Beijing to find reasons for the fall. He said he would pass his findings to WHO chief Gro Harlem Brundtland on Friday and she would decide whether to cancel a travel advisory.

"The travel warning will be lifted one day," Heymann told a nationally televised news conference.

He credited a "massive effort to mobilize" people in cities and the countryside for helping to curb the virus rapidly.

Another WHO official hinted the warning could be lifted soon. "I think tomorrow it might be much clearer," he said.

Taiwan Lagging
Taiwan had hoped the WHO would revise its travel warning on Tuesday, but officials said the Geneva-based organization had requested more information from the island.

It has the third-highest number of SARS infections and victims after Chinese mainland and Hong Kong. The island reported two new cases on Thursday -- the 12th straight day that new infections were below five.

Chinese mainland reported no new cases and one more death, taking its death toll to 344 of the 790 deaths worldwide.

In the Canadian city of Toronto, the only place outside Asia where the virus has claimed lives, the number of probable SARS cases rose to 65 on Wednesday from 64 a day earlier. The number of deaths remained at 33.

SARS resurfaced in the city of about 4 million people in late May after no new cases had been reported for more than a month.

Source: agencies

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