No Cases of Pneumonia with Flu-like Symptoms Registered in Russia - 18 March, 2003

As of today, no cases of atypical pneumonia with flu-like symptoms have been registered in Russia, Russia's chief sanitary inspector Gennady Onishchenko told journalists on Tuesday.

"There are no grounds for panic," he said. As of today, according to the information of the World Health Organization, doctors have registered 167 cases of this earlier unknown disease, 9 of them fatal. According to Onishchenko, the geography remains the same - Vietnam, China, Hong Kong, Switzerland, Canada and a few other countries.

Russian physicians "are actively co-operating with the WHO and get all the updates on this new disease," he noted.

He also said all of the country's sanitary control stations had been alerted so that the passengers of each plane arriving from the aforementioned countries should be examined by a sanitary inspector.

According to him, health ministry officials are consulting the teams of Russian planes flying to the countries in question.

"There is as yet no vaccine against the disease," said Onishchenko, adding that the illness, which was not flu, probably required "symptomatic treatment of the kind used to treat a regular viral infection." The chief sanitary inspector also said it was necessary to explain facts about the disease to people instead of scaring them. In any case, gauze masks and healthy lifestyle "would do no harm," he added.