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  Virus closes Hong Kong schools
Updated 30 March 2003, 17.39
A teenage boy puts on a surgical mask for protection
School children in Hong Kong are starting a week-long holiday following an outbreak of the mystery flu-like virus.

About 2,000 primary and secondary schools will close until 6 April to stop it spreading.

Officials in Hong Kong are also spending two days disinfecting the streets and housing estates.

The bug affects the way you breathe and has been called SARS - Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome.

The outbreak has killed more than 50 people worldwide, with 1,500 showing signs of the virus.

On Sunday, Hong Kong officials said 60 more people had been infected. More than half of the new infections are in one block of flats.

Bit like a cold

At first no one knew what caused the bug which was spotted in Hong Kong in February.

Now doctors think it's similar to a type of virus called Corona which is a bit like the common cold - only more dangerous.

But the more they know about it, the easier it will be to treat.

Surgical masks are worn for protection
Surgical masks are worn for protection

SARS is spread by getting too close to someone who's already sick.

It is mainly affecting people who live in Hong Kong, Singapore, Vietnam and China, but some cases have also been spotted in the US, UK and Canada.

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