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World - Reuters
Hong Kong Monks Pray for Mystery Pneumonia Victims
Fri Mar 21,12:50 AM ET
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By Tan Ee Lyn

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Hong Kong monks chanted prayers on Friday for hospital patients suffering a mystery pneumonia that has spread around the world killing at least 10 people.

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Slideshow Slideshow: WHO Warns of Pneumonia-Like Illness

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(Reuters Video)

Health officials said they were closing in on the cause of the disease, cooperating around the globe and around the clock to isolate and identify the germ or germs involved.

U.S. health officials said 13 patients in 10 states were being treated while doctors tried to determine if they had the infection, known as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).

Hong Kong health authorities said most infections could be traced to a doctor who treated patients in China before becoming ill and dying from SARS.

The World Health Organization (news - web sites) said 10 people had died -- six in Hong Kong, two in Canada and two in Vietnam. It reported a total of 306 cases, but its figures excluded an outbreak in China that started last November and may have been the source.

Five people died in that outbreak, making the possible global death toll 15.

In Hong Kong, a school was shut for disinfecting on Friday after four children tested positive for the disease, a government spokesman said.

Four other people, including 15-year-old twin girls, were infected by family members working at hospitals, where most of the 173 infections in Hong Kong have occurred.

Of these, 165 are suffering full-blown pneumonia.

The disease is believed to have spread to Hong Kong, Vietnam, Singapore, Canada, Taiwan and Germany since first showing up in China.

Hong Kong authorities believe the Chinese doctor infected seven guests staying on the same floor of a Hong Kong hotel before he died.

Those seven are believed to have carried the virus to Singapore, Vietnam and Canada.

The doctor had treated patients in China before contracting the virus, which experts have identified as being part of the paramyxovirus family of viruses that causes measles and mumps.

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