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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 July, 2004, 15:30 GMT 16:30 UK
Timeline: Sars virus
BBC News Online looks at the chronology of key events surrounding the outbreak of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (Sars) virus.

16 November 2002:
First known case of Sars is discovered in Guangdong province, China.

11 February 2003:
The Chinese Ministry of Health reports that there have been 300 cases including five deaths in Guangdong province from an "acute respiratory syndrome".

Hong Kong shoppers
Fear of infection has transformed normal life in parts of China and Hong Kong
11 March:
Hong Kong health officials report an outbreak of an "acute respiratory syndrome" among hospital workers.

15 March:
The World Health Organisation (WHO) confirms that Severe Acute Respiratory syndrome (Sars) is a "worldwide health threat" and that possible cases have been identified in Canada, Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. The WHO issues guidelines warning travellers to South East Asia about the dangers of Sars.

19 March:
Sars spreads to the US and Europe with the UK, Spain, Germany and Slovenia reporting cases.

27 March:
WHO recommends screening departing travellers from worst affected areas.

29 March:
Carlo Urbani, the WHO official who first identified Sars, dies of the disease.

2 April:
WHO recommends postponement of all non-essential travel to Hong Kong and Guangdong province of China.

5 April:
China apologises for its slow response to the Sars outbreak amid allegations that officials have covered up the true extent of the spread of the disease.

9 April:
First Sars case reported in Africa.

14 April:
Canadian scientists confirm they have sequenced the genome of the Sars virus.

17 April:
India confirms its first Sars case.

23 April:
WHO recommends postponement of non-essential travel to Toronto, Canada. All schools in Beijing are shut for two weeks in an attempt to halt the spread of the disease.

26 April:
Health ministers from 13 east and south-east Asian countries - meeting in Malaysia - call for all international travellers to be screened for Sars.

27 April:
The Beijing authorities order the closure of all entertainment venues in the Chinese capital - including theatres, cinemas and karaoke bars - until the outbreak is brought under control.

28 April:
The WHO says Vietnam has contained the virus, after no new cases are reported in the country for 20 days.

5 May:
The Chinese authorities quarantine 10,000 people in the eastern city of Nanjing.

11 May:
The southern Chinese city of Guangzhou bans spitting in public places to combat Sars.

15 May:
China threatens to execute or jail for life anyone who breaks Sars quarantine orders.

22 May:
The infection rate reaches its apex in Taiwan, with 65 new cases in one day.

31 May:
The WHO declares Singapore Sars-free.

5 June:
The outbreak has peaked around the world - including China - the WHO says.

13 June:
The WHO withdraws is travel warnings for the Chinese provinces of Hebei, Inner Mongolia, Shanxi and Tianjin - but maintains the warning for Beijing.

17 June:
WHO lifts its travel warning for Taiwan.

23 June:
China and Hong Kong are removed from the WHO's list of Sars-infected areas.

2 July:
Toronto is declared Sars-free by the WHO, after 20 consecutive days without new cases.

5 July:
Taiwan is the last country to be removed from the WHO's list of infected areas.

9 September:
Singapore announces that a patient has Sars, making him the first person to contract the disease in five months. The WHO has yet to confirm the case.

17 December:
Taiwan health officials say a medical researcher at a Taipei military hospital has contracted the virus.

5 January 2004:
Chinese health officials confirm a 32-year-old man in southern Guangdong province has Sars, the country's first case in months, and announce plans to slaughter thousands of civet cats to curb the spread of the disease.

16 January 2004:
The World Health Organization says it has found evidence suggesting that civets do carry Sars.

17 January 2004:
China confirms two new Sars cases in Guangdong province.

26 April 2004:
The Chinese health ministry says it is investigating at least four new suspected cases. Officials say all the new cases are connected to a confirmed patient who worked at a Sars research lab.

19 May 2004:
The World Health Organization says China has contained the latest outbreak of Sars.

1 July 2004:
The director of China's main disease control centre, Li Liming, resigns over the April outbreak, which happened at one of his laboratories.

7 July 2004:
Hong Kong Health Secretary Yeoh Eng-kiong resigns after being criticised in a report on the handling of the 2003 Sars crisis. The report accused him of paying too little attention to Sars when it appeared in mainland China, and issuing misleading statements to the Hong Kong public.





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