Hong Kong, March 26 (Reuters): China dramatically raised the death toll from a mystery virus today and Singapore closed all schools in a bid to control an outbreak of pneumonia that has killed at least 50 people worldwide and infected more than 1,000.
Singapore, which has quarantined more than 700 people with flu-like symptoms, reported its first death from severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) while Hong Kong officials hunted dozens of foreign visitors who may have been exposed.
World Health Organisation officials believe SARS, spreading swiftly across the world, is linked to the outbreak in China’s southern province of Guangdong, bordering Hong Kong, which began in November, but they have yet to prove it scientifically.
Chinese officials said 24 people had died of atypical pneumonia in Guangzhou and seven in six other Guangdong cities by the end of February. They said nearly 800 people had been infected.
Previously, they had reported 305 infections and five deaths. SARS has spread to Hong Kong, Vietnam, Singapore, Canada and
Germany, infecting nearly 500. Suspected cases have been reported in the US, Britain and Australia.
Eleven people have died in Hong Kong, four in Vietnam, three in Canada and one in Singapore.