Theatres closed in Beijing over SARS fears

Theatres, discos closed in Beijing in effort to contain SARS; Hong Kong's death toll now surpasses China's

Public fun has surrendered to growing fear in Beijing as the cases of severe acute respiratory syndrome continues to mount.

In an effort to control the spread of SARS, city officials have closed theatres, discos, Internet cafes and other such public venues.

Some observers say the moves are moot, however, as so few Beijing residents are daring to go out.

Construction workers, meanwhile, continued to assemble prefabricated buildings Sunday for an isolation camp for SARS patients, at Xiaotangshan, north of Beijing.

Authorities ordered the 1000-bed camp to be built, beginning last Wednesday, after announcing a ten-fold increase in the numbers of SARS-infected people in the city.

Beijing, Hong Kong, Toronto and some provinces in mainland China are among the places where the World Health Organization is advising that people avoid because of the SARS threat.

China's health ministry reported 161 new cases on Sunday, 126 of which were in Beijing. The national total is now 2,914 in the nation of almost 1.3 billion people.

Nine new SARS deaths were reported in China Sunday, eight of which were in Beijing. That brings China's total deaths to 131 and Beijing's to 42.

Hong Kong reported 12 new deaths Sunday for a total of 131, making it the world leader in total SARS mortality.

It reported 16 new cases of infection for a total of 1,543. It was one fewer case than Saturday and the lowest number in a 24-hour period yet.

Taiwan saw its first death from SARS on Sunday. It will quarantine foreign visitors and Taiwanese citizens who are coming from SARS hotspots for 10 days.

The 56-year-old Taiwanese man who died caught the SARS virus from his brother who had visited Hong Kong.

India saw its sixth SARS case on Sunday. The person had returned to Bombay on April 18 following a visit to China.