Hospital alert for Asian killer

Hospitals and health centers all over Greece were placed on alert yesterday in order to cope with possible outbreaks of a mysterious type of pneumonia that has affected parts of Southeast Asia. Health Minister Costas Stefanis chaired a meeting yesterday to discuss the disease, known as atypical pneumonia, that has afflicted 150 people and caused four deaths in recent days, mostly in China, Hong Kong, Vietnam and Singapore. Officials said there had been no indication so far that anyone in Greece had been infected, or had even developed suspicious symptoms. The Center for the Control of Special Infectious Diseases (KEEL) yesterday issued instructions to doctors and nursing staff on identifying and treating the illness, which has been declared a «worldwide health threat» by the World Health Organization in a rare emergency warning. The disease starts with fever, headaches, muscle aches, a dry cough and shortness of breath, and can lead to pneumonia, acute respiratory problems and death.

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