SARS alert at borders, hospitals

Border health controls were stepped up in northern Greece yesterday after Bulgaria reported its first suspected case of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), while Greece’s main hospitals have set aside special isolation wards and are stocking up on protective clothing. Extra medical personnel have been sent to all the official crossings on Greece’s border with Bulgaria, which have also been issued with SARS detection equipment. Controls are also tight at all Greek harbors where foreign ships dock, as well as at Athens airport, where arriving passengers are handed information leaflets on SARS. No cases of the mysterious disease – which has killed at least 261 people, mainly in the Far East – have been registered in Greece. Many Athens state hospitals ask incoming patients to fill in questionnaires on whether they have traveled to one of the SARS-afflicted countries over the previous 10 days, or have come into contact with people from these countries. «I hope they are telling us the truth,» Athens Sismanogleio hospital Andreas Kartapanos told Kathimerini.