Singapore cleared for Games

SINGAPORE was last night removed from the World Health Organisation’s list of SARS affected countries, clearing the way for its participation in the Special Olympics World Games in the weeks ahead.

The Irish organising committee said its Co Wicklow host town was now completing final preparations for the Singapore delegation.

“Arklow had not given up hope and was delighted by the news,” said Julian Davis of the Special Olympics Organising Committee. “The town had continued with its plans, as scheduled, and is now preparing a big welcome for the athletes and their coaches.”

Mr Davis said the committee is still awaiting a response from the expert group, appoint by the government, on a fresh submission to permit athletes from China, Taiwan and Hong Kong to participate.

“We are awaiting the expert group’s deliberations and we’re hopeful that all teams will make it,” said Mr Davis.

Meanwhile, Mr Davis said Canada’s participation is not in jeopardy despite the decision by WHO to put Toronto back on the WHO’s travel advisory list, weeks after it was removed.

“Athletes from Toronto will be asked not to come by the department but that will not affect Canada’s position, overall,” he said.

Singapore, meanwhile, was one of five countries initially affected by the government’s decision to ask athletes not to travel to Ireland for the Games.

The country got the all clear from midnight as no new cases of the virus were reported in the last 20 days.

The Department of Health confirmed that athletes from any country, including Singapore, which remains off the WHO list are free to travel.

The Philippines was declared SARS free over a week ago. China, Taiwan and Hong Kong remain on the list. China reported seven new cases and one death yesterday.

Hong Kong yesterday reported four new SARS cases and one more death.

Earlier this week, Toronto was re-instated on the list of SARS-affected areas. Its probable SARS cases more than doubled as the city changed how it counts cases in line with WHO recommendations.

Under the previous definition of an active probable case, established by Ontario health officials, Canada had 12 infections from a new cluster discovered in Toronto last week.

But under the newly adopted WHO classification, the number rose to 33, including four who had died soon after the outbreak’s discovery.

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