Three false SARS alarms

Greece’s third feared outbreak in four days of the fatal severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) proved to be another false alarm, Athens hospital officials said yesterday. On Sunday, a 30-year-old woman was admitted to the capital’s Laiko hospital with pneumonia symptoms, and was immediately taken to an isolation ward amid fears she might be suffering from the mystery disease that has killed at least 333 people worldwide, out of more than 4,800 infected. But yesterday a hospital announcement said the pneumonia was due to a bacterial infection, and not SARS. On Saturday, the Health Ministry announced that a married couple treated in isolation with respiratory problems in Athens were not suffering from SARS. The report of their hospitalization led Turkey to intensify health controls along its border with Greece. Yesterday, the ministry said it would immediately issue official announcements in the event of suspected SARS cases.