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Quarantined foreigners in Andhra released

74 foreigners, isolated when two showed SARS-like symptoms, were released after doctors said they were not carrying the virus.

india Updated: May 05, 2003 13:35 IST
Agencies

India said on Sunday it has released from quarantine the 74 foreigners, mostly Australians isolated in the southern city of Secunderabad after two of them were suspected to be suffering from SARS.

Doctors certified 74 foreigners, mostly Australians at a youth hostel, were not suffering from the deadly disease, K Venu, chief SARS coordinator for the state of Andhra Pradesh, told Reuters.

The foreigners included tourists, Christian missionaries and singers who had been in the city for more than a week, officials said.

"They are now free to move around since there is no need to keep them in isolation," Venu said.

The state government had posted policemen to ensure the foreigners stayed confined after being quarantined on Saturday, officials said.

Venu said the two Australians suffering from fever, sore throat and cough were refered to a hospital for tests.

They travelled from Australia to Bombay via Thailand and reached Secundrabad by train on April 26 but reported SARS-like symptoms only on Friday, he said.

"Both the patients are now recovering. There is no respiratory distress in both of them. Their chest X-ray shows that their lungs are clear," he added.

SARS CASE IN KOLKATA

Health officials in Calcutta, capital of the eastern state of West Bengal, said on Sunday blood tests showed that a 25-year-old man who had travelled to Hong Kong was suffering from SARS.

"Right now he is not showing any symptoms but when he landed at the airport last week, he was coughing and had a fever. His blood report showed he was SARS positive," state Health Secretary Asim Barman said.

"We have kept him in an isolation ward. For further conclusive evidence, we have sent his report to Delhi."

India had reported 20 SARS cases, based on laboratory tests, but the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the country free of SARS last Thursday, saying it relied on symptoms to diagnose the disease as tests were not reliable.

SARS, which has killed more than 430 people and infected 6,500 worldwide, is widely believed to have originated in southern China, hit Hong Kong in March and was spread around the world by air travellers.

Union Health Minister Sushma Swaraj reviewed arrangements for screening for possible carriers of the disease at the international airport in New Delhi here.

Meanwhile, the Maharashtra government declared the state totally free from SARS and said the only patient, who is suspected to have contracted the disease, is likely to be discharged on Monday.

The patient, a software professional, who had returned from China, has not shown any symptoms even though he had tested positive for the corona virus, Deputy Director of Health Pune circle, Dr BP Gaikwad said.

The decision to dequarantine them was taken after a high- power committee meeting, held under the chairmanship of the state minister Digvijay Khanvilkar, he said.

First Published: May 05, 2003 00:00 IST