PINAY SARS VICTIM TO BE CREMATED IN HK

Manila, March 27, 2003 -- Malacaņang announced the remains of a Filipina
domestic helper in Hong Kong who succumbed to the deadly pneumonia would be
cremated to avoid contamination.

In a statement, presidential spokesman Ignacio Bunye said they agreed to
the suggestions of the DoH and the Department of Labor and Employment
(DoLE) so that fears of the deadly virus spreading would be avoided.

Labor Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas said no one in the Queen Elizabeth
Hospital in Hong Kong wanted to touch the remains of Filipino maid Adela
Dalingay for fear the SARS virus would spread.

She noted an autopsy is needed to confirm whether the Filipina really had
SARS.

According to Sto. Tomas, the parents of the victim have agreed to the
cremation.

They are scheduled to fly to Hong Kong today together with some Philippine
government officials to pay their last respects to their 39-year-old
daughter before she undergoes cremation on Friday.

Bunye also said they would check whether the two other Filipino maids being
treated in the same Hong Kong hospital are also inflicted with SARS.

Last night, President Arroyo announced she was considering the proposal to
impose a travel ban on countries like Hong Kong, Singapore, China and
Vietnam where the fatal disease reportedly originated.

Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Blas Ople warned SARS is an
epidemic that could reach the Philippines.

The WHO said SARS cases among overseas Filipinos have increased to 16,
mostly in Singapore.

Registered cases worldwide reached 581 from February up to present while
the death toll increased to 17, including that of Dalingay.

New cases include a physician and three nurses who were working in Tan Tock
Seng Hospital in Singapore.

WHO virologists are checking on two possible causes of the disease, the
first of which is the paramyxovirus, that is linked to mumps and
respiratory ailments. The other is the corona virus, which is connected to
flu.

WHO country representative Jean Marc Olive' admitted they are having a hard
time identifying the causative agent. "We have 11 laboratories working on
it worldwide, but it is hard to look for something that you don't know," he
said.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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