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SARS cases fall in HK
- Virus here to stay: Minister

Beijing, May 3 (Reuters): Hong Kong reported only 10 fresh SARS cases today, the lowest daily total in the past month and a half, and there were no new infections in Singapore, but authorities warned the disease was not yet under control.

China, the nation worst affected by Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, tripled the amount of money set aside to combat the disease to six billion yuan ($725 million) as officials reported at least nine more deaths and over 180 new cases.

Hong Kong also reported an additional nine fatalities, taking the total worldwide to 436. More than 6,500 people have been infected, including about 4,000 in China, where the disease is believed to have originated last year. SARS first erupted in southern Guangdong province but has since ravaged mostly Beijing, where almost 100 people have died.

Although the number of new cases in Hong Kong was the lowest in a single day since March 17, director of health Margaret Chan told a local radio station the virus remained unpredictable. “There has been a decreasing trend, new cases have decreased very gradually, but it’s like a moving target so we have to be very careful,” Chan said on the RTHK network.

“There are some patients now who are in a serious condition. Yes, there is a chance that the number of deaths will continue to rise,” she added.

Hong Kong has reported about 1,600 SARS cases of whom about 900 are still being treated. Of these, about 80 are in serious condition.

Chan also said the disease may have come to stay.

“Some experts’ view is that the virus cannot be destroyed and won’t disappear from Hong Kong and other countries,” she said.

China, with most of its residents closeted at home on the third day of the Labour Day holiday, reported another 181 SARS cases and allocated more resources to containing the disease. There is great worry that SARS could spread to the country's vast provinces, where it could overwhelm the creaky health system. Already, some 1,750 people are infected in Beijing and about 14,000 have been quarantined in the capital.

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