ASEAN LEADERS IN BANGKOK SARS MEET

Bangkok, Thailand, April 18, 2003 -- Leaders from the 10 members of the
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will meet in Bangkok on
April 29 to discuss issues related to severe acute respiratory syndrome
(SARS) and to find ways and means of coping with the disease that hit
regional tourism particularly hard, a Thai minister said Thursday.

Thai Public Health Minister Sudarat Keyuraphan told reporters Prime
Minister Thaksin Shinawatra had agreed to host an ASEAN summit on SARS.

Four ASEAN countries have recorded SARS deaths: Singapore 13; Vietnam five;
Thailand two; and Malaysia one; according to the World Health Organization
(WHO).

The SARS virus has killed at least 159 people worldwide and more than 3,200
patients have been recorded as probable SARS cases, according to the WHO.

ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the
Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Asian economies, especially in their tourism sectors, have been hard-hit by
fallout from the SARS virus and authorities in many countries have already
said they expect economic growth to be slower than previously expected this
year because of SARS.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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