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Singapore calls military for SARS


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SINGAPORE (Reuters) -- Singapore has called out the military to battle the deadly flu-like SARS virus, and the government said on Tuesday Internet-linked cameras might be used to enforce home quarantine orders.

Singapore thought it had Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) under control but more infections in the past few days show it is still spreading alarmingly fast through Singapore's health system.

Fifty Singapore Air Force (SAF) paramedics would help nurses at Changi International Airport screen passengers arriving from places hit by SARS such as Hong Kong, China, Hanoi and Toronto, the Ministry of Health said.

"We have requested 100 from the SAF and we have received 50," said a ministry spokeswoman.

Singapore has the world's fourth-highest number of confirmed cases of SARS. While around two-thirds have recovered, SARS has killed eight people in the city state and hundreds exposed to the disease have been quarantined at home to try to stop the spread.

Health Minister Lim Hng Kiang said the Internet-linked "webcams" might be used to enforce the quarantines.

"We are thinking of installing webcams in the houses of people under home quarantine and at certain times of the day they will have to report to the webcam," he said.

Nine people have broken home quarantine since March 24, despite the threat of a fine of S$2,000 to S$10,000 ($1,125 to $5,624).

The respiratory disease was found at a fifth Singapore hospital on Monday, defeating government efforts to isolate it at one of the city's six main hospitals.

Authorities rushed nearly 200 people by ambulance to that hospital to try to maintain the isolation.

The island republic reported two deaths and seven new cases on Monday, its highest such numbers in two weeks.

This raised fears of a crack in the government's approach, which has included closing all schools for more than a week.



Copyright 2003 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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