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Breakfast with Frost
Children attend ballet lessons wearing masks to protect themselves from severe acute respiratory syndrome, SARS, in Hong Kong
"a window of opportunity" to contain SARS
The head of the World Health Organisation today defended the warnings being given about the dangers of SARS.

"We are not going over the top," Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland told Sir David Frost. "We are doing what is prudent and necessary."

Facing criticism especially of the WHO's advice to avoid travelling to the Canadian city of Toronto, Dr Brundtland said there was still "a window of opportunity" to contain the disease.

"We have a chance to do it now if we work together globally, across the countries, and do what is necessary to control the outbreak."

The Chief Medical Officer, Professor Sir Liam Donaldson conceded that Britain may be forced to declare SARS a notifiable disease.

"In due course, in the long-term it might be helpful to make it notifiable," he told Sir David. But he did not believe such action was needed yet:

"The main purpose of notification is to spot the disease early and we think at this stage we have got the best way of spotting the disease early and we don't want to take our eye off the ball," he said.

Also on today's programme, Sir David talked to the Leader of the Opposition, Iain Duncan Smith, about the forthcoming local elections.

The Conservative leader stuck by his earlier prediction that the party would make only modest gains - because it was starting from a high base.

"If we do gain seats, the net gain may be 30 or so which is what we put out. We are looking to keep control of councils because we won so many last time round."

However, the Leader of the Commons, Labour's John Reid accused Mr Duncan Smith of deliberately playing down the Tories' prospects.

"Whatever figures they put out Iain Duncan Smith and the Conservatives know that just to stand still they have to get between 500 and 1,000 seats," he told Sir David.

"And if he doesn't I have no doubt there will be talk of 'regime change' in arenas other than the international arena."

Dr Reid admitted that the elections would be a "hard challenge" for Labour.

The programme also included interviews with the Leader of the Scottish National Party, John Swinney, and the Leader of Plaid Cymru, Ieuan Wyn Jones.

The Sunday newspapers were reviewed by the writer and broadcaster, Carol Thatcher and the comedian Graeme Garden.


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