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World in brief

Officials say SARS outbreaks are ending

By Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published May 18, 2003

LONDON - Most SARS outbreaks around the world are coming to an end, the World Health Organization said Saturday as officials expressed "great hope" measures to control the spread of the disease were working.

Difficult struggles remain in mainland China, but the epidemic there, although large, is no more complex than it is in other countries and the government is making great strides, said Mike Ryan, WHO's coordinator of the global effort to stop the severe acute respiratory syndrome virus.

Scientists from 16 SARS-struck locations ended a one-and-a-half day conference Saturday at the WHO's Geneva headquarters, where they discussed the key factors that allow the virus to spread, the effectiveness of control measures and what remaining questions need to be answered.

"The message coming out of this meeting is certainly one of great hope. It's one of celebration that the measures are working, but also a call to action because we've got a lot more to do yet before we end this problem," Ryan said.

SARS has infected more than 7,800 people around the world and killed 625.

Taiwan on Saturday announced its biggest one-day jump in those infected, raising its number of cases to 308. Singapore said fears of a SARS outbreak at a mental hospital were unfounded, leaving it on track to be declared free of the disease.

Dr. Margaret Chan, director of Hong Kong's Department of Health, said epidemiologists at the meeting concluded the pattern of the SARS outbreaks is similar in different places.

The belief that SARS is spread almost exclusively by droplets from coughing and sneezing emerged clearly from the discussions, Chan said.

It is possible the virus could be contracted through feces if it becomes so fine it can be inhaled, the scientists concluded, but there is scant evidence it can be spread by feces-contaminated hands touching mouths.

At least 28 killed when bus crashes in France

LYON, France - A double-decker German tour bus crashed through a guardrail on a rain-swept French highway, plunged down an embankment and flipped onto its roof early Saturday, killing at least 28 of the 74 people on board.

At least six of the injured were in serious condition, said Col. Serge Delaigue, the regional director of fire rescue services.

Nearly everyone on board was believed to be German, with some passengers having won the trip as a contest prize.

Mourners remember Sisulu's contributions

SOWETO, South Africa - Tens of thousands of dancing and singing South Africans jammed a soccer stadium Saturday for the state funeral of Walter Sisulu, the "heroically humble" giant of the fight against apartheid.

"The African colossus that lies in front of us might have fallen, but he has not died," said President Thabo Mbeki, who said Sisulu's memory will live forever.

Since his death May 5 at the age of 90, Sisulu, who spent decades in apartheid prisons, has been hailed as a man of great integrity, the moral center of the African National Congress' liberation struggle.

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