Aus der Straits Times...
Mystery flu puts 4 more people here in hospital
Number could rise if those on plane with a S´porean doctor suspected of having unknown illness also start to fall sick
FOUR more people here were warded yesterday with the mystery respiratory illness, which has left at least nine dead worldwide and continues to spread around the globe, aided by international air travel.
A total of 20 people here are now down with severe acute respiratory syndrome or Sars, as the disease is now named.
Three of them were the initial patients who began showing symptoms after returning from Hongkong recently.
The rest are either family, close friends, or medical staff who had been taking care of them.
And the number could go up, with a plane-load of passengers arriving here yesterday afternoon who had travelled on the same flight as a Singapore doctor, who is now in hospital in Frankfurt on suspicion of having Sars.
They were quarantined for 10 hours in a Frankfurt Airport gymnasium, while Singapore Airlines arranged for a new aircraft for them to continue their journey.
All 82 passengers, 28 of whom disembarked at Changi Airport yesterday evening, were given a health advisory and told to head for the Communicable Disease Centre for a check-up if they develop fever, muscle ache and flu-like symptoms such as cough or sore throat.
The rapid spread of the disease from Hanoi, Hongkong and Guangdong in Asia to Canada and Europe, with alerts now going out even in New York and Atlanta, prompted the World Health Organisation to issue a rare international health alert on Saturday.
It came after news broke about the 32-year-old Singaporean doctor, believed to be the first in Europe to be infected with the disease.
The doctor, who was travelling between New York and Frankfurt with his pregnant wife and mother-in-law, had gone to America on Tuesday for a medical conference, after treating one of the Sars patients here early this month.
The doctor was taken off the plane at Frankfurt after his wife telephoned health authorities during the journey to tell them that he had symptoms of the disease.
A German doctor examining the trio said the 32-year-old doctor´s condition had ´´worsened slightly´´, but he was not certain it was Sars. The doctor´s mother-in-law, 62, has developed high fever but his wife, 30, is showing no signs of infection.
None of the passengers on board with the doctor said they noticed anything wrong during the flight.
Miss Saher Latif, 20, who studies in New York University and was coming back for a holiday, said: ´´I´m just so glad to be home. If I get sick, I get sick. I can´t do anything about it.´´
SIA´s vice-president for public affairs Rick Clements said both planes would be ´´decontaminated and disinfected´´.
He added: ´´The cushions and carpet that the doctor and his family came into contact with will be removed and destroyed. Hard surfaces that can´t be removed will be scrubbed thoroughly.´´
But all the bad news is not keeping Singaporeans grounded, although the Health Ministry has strongly advised people to avoid travelling to Hongkong, Hanoi and the Guangdong province in China.
Mr Wallace Koh is well aware of the bug, but he is still bringing his four young children, wife and mother for a three-day holiday in Hongkong.
The 33-year-old sales manager said: ´´Unless it´s really a direct ban by our Government or those of other countries, I would still go ahead with my holiday.´´.
Calling for calm yesterday Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong told reporters at a grassroots event: ´´I think the Ministry of Health is on top of it and watching very carefully the new cases. And when they occur, treating them very seriously, quarantining them and making sure that we confine the threat.´´ -- AP, Reuters