Hong Kong, Singapore Most at Risk in Flu Pandemic
- The Government Controlled press is reporting that "VRE bacteria not a major problem in Singapore".
This smacks of propaganda when all operations in Suingapore Hospitals have to be suspended.
Even the bird-flu virus is a serious threat as reported by the international press.
Hong Kong, Singapore Most at Risk in Flu Pandemic, CLSA Says
April 3 (Bloomberg) -- The economies of Hong Kong and Singapore are most at risk of serious disruption from any pandemic of bird flu among humans, CLSA Ltd. wrote in a report prepared for it by Bio Economic Research Associates.
Both cities have a high number of tourist arrivals per capita, and will be hurt by the fall-off in travel that would accompany an epidemic, and are highly dependent on international trade, which would be badly affected, the report said.
``The relative economic risk exposure of different countries to an emerging pandemic is related to such factors as the degree of openness in the economy, dependence on travel and tourism, and available health care resources,'' the report said. China, Malaysia and Thailand are the next most vulnerable, it said.
The World Health Organization last month warned countries to prepare for a possible bird flu pandemic that could kill millions of people. The disease, which has appeared in fowl throughout Asia, hasn't yet become easily transmissible between humans. There have been 28 reported cases in people since December.
Hong Kong and Singapore have relatively high per capita spending on health, making them able to respond to the disease quickly. Together with other wealthy countries, they have the resources to limit the economic damage, it said.
Bio Economic Research said a human pandemic is most likely to emerge in Vietnam, based on the number of outbreaks of the disease amongst poultry, the number of reported human cases, the high density of livestock and the level of health-care spending.
Thailand, China, Laos, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Indonesia, in descending order, are also places were an outbreak could possibly start, the report said.
``Since China has commonly been the epicenter from which previous pandemics have emerged, it warrants special attention above and beyond the quantitative measures available to assess its pandemic emergence risk,'' the report said.
To contact the reporter for this story:
Joshua Fellman in Hong Kong at jfellman@...
To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Sue Hill in Hong Kong at Shill6@...
Last Updated: April 3, 2005 05:47 EDT
Superbug hits top hospital in Singapore
April 02 2005 at 01:45PM
Singapore - All non-urgent surgery has been cancelled at Singapore's top hospital, where 15 patients have been hit by a drug-resistant strain of bacteria.
Singapore General Hospital (SGH) said on Saturday that it was testing another 933 patients who may have come into contact with vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE).
"We are taking aggressive steps to ensure that the VRE does not become entrenched in this hospital," said Professor Tay Boon Keng, the chairman of the medical board.
The cancellation of elective surgery starting on Monday will allow the hospital "greater manoeuvrability" should it need to isolate more patients, he said.
The bacteria is generally harmless in healthy people, said Dr Asok Kumar, an internal medicine consultant, but is a threat to those with weak immune systems such as those suffering from cancer or kidney failure. It can be fatal in such cases.
Of the 15 carriers found at SGH, only one has been infected, a diabetic who has had a leg amputated.
Vancomycin is a powerful antibiotic that doctors often regard as a last-resort drug to eliminate bacterial infections.
The 15 have been found since March 9, Tay said. Some who have left the hospital will need to be tested for the bacteria, which is spread through direct contact with an infected person, usually by the hands or an open wound.
The identities of those carrying the bug will be circulated to all hospitals and nursing homes in case they are admitted elsewhere.
SGH will bear the cost of treatment for those who have caught VRE at the hospital, which ranges between 200 Singapore dollars to 800 Singapore dollars a day.
Signs have been put up along the hospital's corridors reminding patients, visitors and staff to wash their hands. Visitors have been restricted to two per patient.
VRE was first reported in the United States in the late 1980s and has become a major cause of hospital-acquired infections in the US.
The 15 hit here comprise the largest cluster of VRE ever identified in the city-state. The previous high was six cases last year, also at SGH.
Patients who have the bacteria may be infectious for several months, said Tay.
These carriers need to be isolated if they are admitted to a hospital, he added. - Sapa-dpa