- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 16, 2003

SINGAPORE, March 17 (UPI) — Singapore's Ministry of Health said Monday that four new patients with so-called severe acute respiratory syndrome had been hospitalized, bringing the total of known cases to 20.

The ministry advised against all non-essential travel to Hong Kong, Hanoi and Guangdong province in China.

Besides three initial cases, all the other 17 patients had been in close contact with other infected patients. Of these, 10 were relatives or friends and seven were medical staff who had helped treat the patients.

All the patients are stable and have been isolated.

SARS is known so far to have killed at least nine people around the world and infected more than 100, prompting a health warning from the World Health Organization.

The disease is also spreading through international travel.

One Singaporean doctor and two of his travelling companions are hospitalized in Frankfurt, where they were quarantined from a Singapore Airlines flight returning from New York via the German city.

The doctor had in early March treated one of the patients in Singapore who had atypical pneumonia after returning from travel to Hong Kong, before leaving for New York for a medical conference.

The first outbreak of SARS, whose cause isn't yet known, was detected in China in February. Dozens of people in Hong Kong and Vietnam, many of them hospital staff, have been infected and numbers are rising steadily in Taiwan, too.

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