Deaths from virus reach 100 and Hong Kong fears thousands more

Deaths worldwide from severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) reached at least 100 yesterday, as China revealed that fatalities had been much more widespread than previously reported.

Deaths worldwide from severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) reached at least 100 yesterday, as China revealed that fatalities had been much more widespread than previously reported.

Hong Kong said it was preparing for a leap in Sars cases. Health officials were expecting as many as 3,000 patients. There are 700 now.

Officials in Singapore were considering installing web cameras in the homes of people under quarantine to make sure they did not leave, and Vietnam said it might bar visitors from countries with the mysterious flu-like disease.

A woman aged 78 died in Hong Kong – the 100th death worldwide since the disease was first detected five months ago. New deaths were also reported yesterday in China and Singapore. More than 2,400 people have caught the illness globally.

China, which with Hong Kong has been hardest hit by Sars, disclosed that its official toll of 53 included areas where fatalities hadn't previously been reported.

State television said there had been one death each in the provinces of Shanxi in the north, Sichuan in the west and Hunan in central China. The report did not say when they had happened, and the Health Ministry press office said it had no more details.

The disclosures by China came after mounting criticism at home and abroad that the Communist government had been too slow to release information about Sars.

Singapore's Prime Minister, Goh Chok Tong, called off a trip to China to meet the country's new leadership because of the outbreak of the disease there.

Everton football club cancelled a tour of China and Hong Kong next month. "The simple truth is that we could not take the risk of exposing anyone, be they players, officials or supporters, to the possibility of infection by the Sars virus," a spokesman said.

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