Sars claims nine lives in one day


Nine people died of Sars yesterday in the worst day of the killer bug so far.

Among the victims of severe acute respiratory syndrome was a pregnant woman.

Doctors managed to save the 34-year-old's baby after delivering it by Caesarean section.

The deaths, all in Hong Kong, take the total there to 56. More than 3,300 people around the world are thought to be infected and up to 200 have died.

Following weeks of denial that the disease was a problem in China - where 64 people have died - president Hu Jintao admitted on TV to being very worried.

Prime minister Wen Jiabao toured hospitals visiting infected patients.

In the cities, posters called for people to wash their hands after wiping their noses, cut down on drinking and smoking and keep face masks handy.

Airports have been told to stop people suspected of having Sars from boarding planes, but it was not clear what action would be taken if they insisted on flying.

Asian governments are facing economic crises as the outbreak keeps tourists at home, airlines cancel flights and shops and restaurants go empty.

In Hong Kong, about 60,000 catering and hotel workers have either lost their jobs or are on unpaid leave.

However, containing the disease could become easier thanks to a high-speed testing kit developed by Artus, a German company.

The test, which can detect the virus in two hours instead of ten days, is being distributed free to laboratories.

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