Taiwan Tourism Bureau issues SARS statement

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NEW YORK -- Concern in Taiwan that a case of SARS involving a medical researcher could impact travel has prompted the Taiwan Tourism Bureau to issue a statement in an effort to "clarify the circumstances" of the incident.

C.T. Su, director general of the Taiwan Tourism Bureau, said news of the infected lab worker "has led to renewed concern and numerous inquiries" made to Taiwan tourism operators.

"The recent SARS case involved a lab researcher whose infection resulted from the mishandling of equipment. As such, the incident did not occur under normal circumstances, but rather occurred under conditions very similar to those under which a physician in Singapore was infected in August... The experience of combating SARS in April to June this year has amply prepared Taiwan to guard against any future outbreak of SARS," the statement said.

Meanwhile, the 44-year-old scientist who became infected with the virus is recovering, and five foreigners who sat near him on a flight from Singapore to Taiwan have been located and told to monitor their health.

No SARS cases have been reported among the people who came in contact with the scientist, the World Health Organization said. Still, Taiwan put 34 people in home quarantine and Singapore isolated 75 people who had close contact with the scientist. Singapore health authorities planned to lift its quarantine by noon Dec. 19.

To contact reporter Jorge Sidron, send e-mail to [email protected].

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