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WHO team arrives in Taiwan Province to support efforts to combat spread of SARS

WHO team arrives in Taiwan Province to support efforts to combat spread of SARS

SARS coronavirus
A United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) team arrived today in Taiwan Province of China, to support health authorities there in combating the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak, which has accelerated considerably during the past week.

Taiwan announced yesterday a cumulative total of 100 probable cases of SARS, a number representing almost a tripling of cases over the past 10 days, according to WHO. The agency's two-person team - with expertise in epidemiology and virology - will visit hospitals and consult with local health authorities to get a clear picture of how the outbreak is developing.

The team's principal focus will be on the possible need to strengthen infection control procedures, as the outbreak has affected a number of hospital staff. They will also advise Taiwan officials on how best to stop the spread of the virus on the island.

The country's Centre for Disease Control reported the first two suspected SARS cases, in a couple, on 14 March, and by 16 April a total of 27 probable cases had been detected. WHO said investigation of cases determined that all either had a travel history to an affected area, or had been in close contact with patients.

Several staff at two hospitals have become infected, forcing Taiwanese authorities to impose, on 28 April, a mandatory 14-day quarantine on all incoming travellers from China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Macao and Toronto, Canada. Since the outbreak began, 8 deaths have occurred in Taiwan.

Latest global statistics indicate a total of 6,583 cases with 461 deaths.