SARS Virus Can Live
For 3 Days On Plastic

By Carrie Lee

HONG KONG (Reuters) - The SARS virus can survive for as long as three days on plastered walls, glass, plastic and other surfaces, Hong Kong researchers said on Friday.
The findings, in a study from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, are based on samples taken from a hospital with SARS patients.
The university, in a statement, said the virus that causes Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome could survive for 72 hours on surfaces such as stainless steel, plastered walls, glass, plastic and formica in a hospital setting.
The findings come as Hong Kong said SARS had infected four more people in the city. The victims were believed to have caught the disease from SARS patients in the same hospitals.
SARS has killed 274 people in Hong Kong since the epidemic began in March and infected 1,736. The virus surfaced in southern China late last year and has been spread around the world by air travelers.
Asked about the study's findings, WHO spokesman Iain Simpson said in Geneva: "It is very difficult to give it a specific length of time because it varies from surface to surface and even place to place.
"It is, I think, slightly longer than we have seen before but it is not particularly surprising."
Doctors worry that the long life of the virus outside a host would make infections easier.
Many of those who recently caught the disease in the city are believed to have picked it up from other hospital patients before the latter showed obvious SARS symptoms.
"Preventive precautions are adequate in SARS wards. The worry is other wards with no suspected cases, or so called 'invisible cases'," Sydney Chung, Dean of the university's Faculty of Medicine, told a news conference.
"The elderly people sometimes can have SARS and show no typical symptoms, not even fever. Those are dangerous situations," he said, urging hospital workers in all wards to take full precautions.
The latest findings come after the World Health Organization said earlier this month the SARS virus could live for days in the stool and urine of patients.
In a separate development, Deputy Director of Health Leung Pak-yin said that Hong Kong, Macau and the neighboring Chinese province of Guangdong were planning to return visitors found to have SARS symptoms at immigration points to their area of origin to prevent the three areas from exporting the illness.
He said the three sides were talking about details of the operation.
Leung was speaking after the first meeting on SARS among medical officials and experts from Hong Kong, Guangdong and nearby Macau.
He said the three sides agreed to extend the present mechanism on information exchange and to include in it other infectious diseases alongside SARS.
On Friday, China said a ban on travel by Guangdong citizens to Hong Kong will be lifted from June 1.
Copyright © 2003 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.



This Site Served by TheHostPros