Vietnam has contained SARS virus - WHO


Vietnam was this morning identified as the first country to contain the SARS virus amid hopes the spread of the outbreak may have peaked in many countries.

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared that Vietnam, one of the first countries hit by Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), has not reported any new cases of the disease since April 8th.

Countries that have 20 days without new infections (twice the incubation period of the disease) can be delared under control, and travel and other restrictions can be lifted.

Taiwan has banned visitors from areas most hit by SARS and Beijing closed theatres and other entertainment centres as the battle to contain the deadly virus opened up new fronts.

Taiwan Premier Mr Yu Shyi-kun also announced a ban on visitors from China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Canada, coupled with a 10-day quarantine for Taiwan residents returning from these areas.

Mr Yu said Taiwan would stop issuing visitor and resident visas to people from the four hot spots. Even those with multiple-entry Taiwan visas would be denied entry.

At least 317 people around the world have died from SARS, which started in China's Guangdong province late last year and has been spread by air travellers to more than 20 countries.

SARS kills about 6 per cent of the people it infects and has no known cure. An official from the World Health Organization said it may take years to find a vaccine.