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SARS fears surface again in Singapore

Singapore, Sept. 8 (Reuters): Singapore reported a possible return of SARS today, hours after the World Health Organisation had warned the deadly virus could reappear.

The ministry of health said initial tests showed one man had tested positive for the pneumonia-like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome virus, in what it believed was an isolated case.

“Initial tests seem to indicate this person has the SARS virus, but we are doing further tests tonight,” a ministry spokeswoman said.

SARS originated in southern China and was spread early this year to 30 countries by travellers. It infected nearly 8,500 people globally and more than 800 died, including 33 in Singapore where the government imposed strict health controls. It hit Asia’s economies hard as travellers cut flights, consumers stayed home and hotel rooms emptied. In Singapore, SARS triggered the nation’s biggest-ever economic contraction in the April to June quarter.

WHO had declared the global outbreak contained on July 5. It took Singapore off a list of SARS-affected regions on May 31, about three weeks after its last patient was isolated.

The health ministry spokeswoman said the man was undergoing tests, whom she described as ethnic Chinese, had been at Singapore General Hospital but was now isolated at Tan Tock Seng Hospital.

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