WHO chiefs warns of new SARS outbreak

Chief of the World Health Organization (WHO) Lee Jong-Wook has said that the WHO is on alert for a possible outbreak of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) this winter and is building a rapid reaction center at its Geneva headquarters.

After delivering a speech at the European Parliament in Brussels on Wednesday, Lee Jong-Wook told reporters it was impossible to be sure how the fatal flu-like virus would behave in the coming months.

"Our working assumption is that SARS will come back," Lee said.

"In the coming winter, if SARS is mixed with the common cold and flu this will cause a lot of problems," he added.

As the disease had not completed a one year cycle, it was not known how it would behave in the winter months, said Lee.

Developing better diagnostic tests was critical to handling any further outbreak, he added.

The SARS has killed more than 700 people and infected over 8,400 this year after China found the first case in its southern area last November.

The WHO declared the end of the outbreak in July. But there has been one isolated case in Singapore since then.

Lee, who took up his post in July, added the WHO was constructing a rapid reaction center at its Geneva headquarters to manage any future outbreak.

He warned last month that the world would face many more SARS-like diseases in this century.

People's Daily Online --- http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/