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  Deadly virus spreads in Hong Kong
Updated 31 March 2003, 16.36
Lots of people, including children, are wearing gas masks in the area
Lots of people are wearing gas masks in the area

People have been ordered to stay inside a block of flats in Hong Kong after a deadly virus is spreading.

There are at least 622 cases of people having the bug in the Kowloon area - and 213 of those have been linked to one apartment building.

So the residents have been ordered to stay indoors until 9 April to try to stop it spreading.


Police put on protective clothing outside the flat block
The virus, called Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), has infected more than 1,550 people across the world since November. It affects the way you breathe.

So far, 54 of those have died from it.

A spokesman from the World Health Organisation said the disease may have come from an animal.


All of the people in the block of flats will get health checks and free meals while they're made to stay indoors.

The disease has killed 54 people so far
But some residents have already fled the flats, fearing they could catch it. There are worries that they could be carrying the virus and could spread it to other parts of the community.

SARS 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.

But it's important to remember that only four per cent of the people who get the virus die from it, which is quite low.

And there are only three possible cases of the disease in the UK. All three patients are being looked after in specialist hospitals, and they've all had close contact with someone who lives in the Far East recently.

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