First case of SARS virus suspected in the Czech Republic

Tchaj-wan, Photo: CTK

Fears of the deadly SARS virus entering the Czech Republic may have become reality. Health officials stated on Wednesday that initial tests showed that a man, who recently returned from a trip to Asia, has tested positive for the SARS virus.

Tchaj-wan,  Photo: CTK
Initial tests on a 25-year-old man, who has been in isolation at Prague's Bulovka hospital since Tuesday, have proved positive. However it remains unclear if the man actually has the deadly respiratory illness, a second round of tests on the patient did not confirm the presence of the SARS virus. Further tests are being carried out, results are expected later on Thursday. The man, who had spent some time in Thailand, does has a fever but does not suffer from pneumonia, a common symptom of the SARS virus. The Czech Republic's chief hygienic officer Michael Vit spoke to Czech radio.

"The young man had fever higher than 38 degrees, he arrived from an affected area where the disease is spread. Taking all these facts into consideration, we decided to hospitalise him. We took blood samples and one of them showed an increased amount of antigenes but further blood tests proved negative."

The Czech Republic has started taking limited measures to protect this country from the spread of the SARS virus. Since the beginning of this week, passengers arriving in the Czech Republic by plane have to fill in so-called SARS cards. The cards should enable authorities to find people who arrived in the country aboard a plane where a fellow passenger had tested positive for SARS.

If confirmed, this would be the first case of SARS in the Czech Republic. There have been around 20 suspected cases in the Czech Republic. As of Wednesday, the World Health Organisation reported just under 8,000 SARS cases and 666 deaths world-wide.