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SARS world deaths now over 182

Easter services have included prayers for an end to the outbreak.
Easter services have included prayers for an end to the outbreak.

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CNN's Andrew Brown reports on the lonely isolation of a SARS ward in a Singapore hospital.
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CNN's Jaime FlorCruz investigates the spread of SARS in China
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SARS FACTS

Suspect case: A person who develops high fever (greater than 38 C / 100.4 F) and respiratory symptoms such as cough, breathing difficulty or shortness of breath, within 10 days of

1) having had close contact with a person who is a suspect or probable case of SARS.
or
2) having traveled to or resided in an affected area.

Probable case:  A suspect case with chest X-ray findings of pneumonia or respiratory distress syndrome.

GENEVA, Switzerland (CNN) -- The World Health Organization has issued new figures for cases of SARS, saying the death toll from the disease has topped 182.

In Hong Kong Saturday, health officials reported 12 more fatalities from Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, saying this was the highest number of deaths from SARS in a 24-hour period.

In Canada the death toll from the respiratory disease rose to 14 on Saturday after a 99-year-old man died from the illness, Reuters reported. (See full story)

In samples from a patient in Goa, India, the western state's National Institute of Virology confirmed the presence of the newly identified coronavirus which causes SARS, (severe acute respiratory syndrome), WHO said in its statement Saturday.

The patient, who had visited Singapore, Hong Kong and Mumbai (formerly Bombay) has recovered and is being kept in isolation, WHO said.

Public health experts have expressed fear that the SARS virus could spread rapidly in the subcontinent's crowded cities and health facilities.

WHO reported Saturday there are 3,547 SARS cases worldwide, 182 of them fatal, in 25 countries on five continents.

The twelve deaths in Hong Kong reported Saturday raised the death toll from the disease in the former British colony to 81.

Announcing the toll, health officials said a further 31 cases of infection had been reported -- a number significantly down from the 60s and 70s being reported daily at the beginning of the month.

Liu Shao-Haei, senior executive manager of Hong Kong's Hospital Authority told reporters that seven of the 12 dead were elderly people suffering pre-existing conditions.

However, one of the dead was aged 37 and had no previous medical record.

Several deaths among young and apparently otherwise healthy patients have raised serious concerns among health officials in Hong Kong struggling to contain the disease.

The latest news will be another psychological blow for beleaguered Hong Kong, which has dedicated the Easter holiday weekend to a territory-wide mass clean-up effort.

The government has called on every one of Hong Kong's seven million residents to take part in the clean-up, scrubbing and disinfecting housing blocks, streets, parks, public venues, shops and restaurants.

Meanwhile in an effort to show China is taking the SARS epidemic seriously, Chinese President Hu Jintao demanded local health officials provide "accurate, timely, and honest reporting about the disease," according to state-run media reports.

This followed an accusation by the World Health Organization that Beijing has been underreporting the spread of the disease.

TIME magazine reported that Chinese officials had gone to elaborate lengths to hide cases of SARS. or severe acute respiratory syndrome.

According to a report in the magazine Friday, dozens of patients were driven around in ambulances while others were moved to hotels during hospital inspection visits by officials from the World Health Organization (WHO). ('Hidden cases')

After an emergency meeting of the Communist Party leadership, the Chinese government demanded Friday that local health officials be more forthcoming about the disease.

"A responsible government has to put the people's interest first," Premier Wen Jiabao was quoted as saying in Saturday's China Daily, a state-run English language newspaper.

WHO also urged Beijing to revise its definition of what constitutes a "suspect" SARS case.

China has reported just under 1,500 cases of SARS and 65 deaths for the entire country.

On Friday health officials in Hong Kong issued a strongly worded press statement squashing a fast growing rumor that smoking could help prevent the disease. (Rumor squashed)

"Smoking weakens body immunity and increases the chance of infection," a health spokesman said, adding rumors that it could prevent SARS were "totally unfounded."

In other developments:

• Singapore Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong says city-state's outbreak of SARS could be the worst crisis it has ever faced. Tightening regulations aimed at combating the spread of the disease Goh also announced strict new measures, including fines and jail terms, for anyone who breaks home quarantine orders.

• Vietnam's health authority has proposed closing the northern land border with China in an effort to prevent further SARS cases entering the country, state media reported Saturday.

• Dozens of boarding school pupils arriving back in Britain from Asia have been taken to quarantine camps in case they have the SARS virus. About 150 children have been transferred to two camps where they will be kept isolated from the public for 10 days and subjected to medical tests. (Pupils quarantined)

-- CNN's Beijing Bureau Chief Jaime FlorCruz, and CNN Financial News Correspondent Peter Viles contributed to this report


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