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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 April, 2003, 10:35 GMT 11:35 UK
Text alerts offer Sars updates
Hong Kong residents wearing masks to protect against Sars
Text alerts tell people which areas to avoid
Text messaging could prove a lifesaver in Hong Kong with a mobile firm offers alerts about the deadly Sars virus.

With the killer bug showing no signs of abating, Sunday Communications has been offering customers daily updates of buildings where victims lived or worked.

"With the dial of a few digits, subscribers can quickly get the peace of mind they need to go about their everyday lives," said the firm, one of Hong Kong's smaller mobile companies.

As well as signing up to access information posted by the Department of Health, customers can also choose to subscribe to a Sars (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) location alert.

Panic worries

A message will automatically be sent to their mobile phone if they are within a one kilometre distance of a building where the infection has occurred.

Subscribers pay the cost of a one-minute local phone call, which varies from 6 to 16 US cents.

The service appears to have proved popular although some fear that it could cause chaos as people panic in the vicinity of the infection.

The Health Department in Hong Kong has been releasing daily lists of buildings where Sars patients have been located in the previous 10 days, with the latest listing 129 addresses.

So far, 1,402 people in Hong Kong have been infected with Sars, with 94 cases leading to death.

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