doctors transfer sick visitor under emergency plan

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    Doctors transfer sick visitor under emergency plan
    By Julie Robotham and agencies
    April 26 2003

    SARS update

    A British woman has been transferred from Manly Hospital to a metropolitan hospital because of concern she might be suffering from SARS, health officials confirmed yesterday.

    The 59-year-old suffered respiratory problems after flying to Australia from Britain, with a one-night stopover in Singapore, which is a SARS-affected area.

    A spokesman for NSW Health said the patient was moved on Wednesday to the larger hospital because it could isolate and treat her better, in line with a statewide plan to deal with a SARS emergency.

    By yesterday, the woman's symptoms were no longer consistent with SARS, the spokesman said.

    Elsewhere in Australia, suspected SARS cases have been transferred to higher-level hospitals. Three Canadian children were moved from Sunshine Hospital in Melbourne's western suburbs to Monash Medical Centre.

    The siblings are three of the four probable SARS cases Australia has reported to the World Health Organisation. The other is a 45-year-old woman in Brisbane.

    A nine-year-old northern NSW boy was under investigation for possible SARS but has recovered and left hospital.

    SARS is spread by droplets from sneezing and coughing, but may also be transmitted by touching contaminated objects such as the buttons in a lift.

    Around the world:

    The first deaths have been recorded in the Philippines when two people succumbed to the disease, while Bulgaria has reported its first cases of SARS.

    Other SARS-related deaths were confirmed yesterday in Canada, China, Hong Kong and Singapore, bringing the world death toll to 263. There are 4439 people in 26 countries infected with the virus.

    Fewer new cases of SARS are being reported in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong, where the disease is believed to have originated five months ago, according to the WHO.

    Chinese college students have been banned from leaving Beijing without medical permission. The May Day holidays have been cut back from seven days to five and the Government has closed all primary and secondary schools in Beijing for two weeks.

    Tourist arrivals at Bangkok International Airport fell more than 40 per cent in the first three weeks of April, said the Tourism Authority of Thailand.

    Taiwan has sealed the Taipei Municipal Ho Ping Hospital after more than 25 suspected SARS cases were discovered. About 1000 doctors, nurses, patients and visitors will have to stay there for up to two weeks. Some patients pasted signs and raised placards at the windows of the downtown hospital in protest.

    SARS could become a horrifying epidemic if it spread in China's provinces or in nations like India and Bangladesh, where people live cheek-by-jowl and medical facilities are poor, a WHO official said in Shanghai.

     An Australian SARS hotline has been set up at 1800 004 599.

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