SARS Should not Ruin St. Petersburg's 300th Anniversary Celebrations

The severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) virus should not be a factor at the 300th anniversary celebrations in St. Petersburg, said Russian President's Plenipotentiary in the Northwest Region Valentina Matvienko on Thursday.

Matvienko made her statement in response to a letter by Russia's Chief Physician Gennady Onishchenko distributed on April 22. The letter said it was necessary to change the period of the anniversary celebrations with the participation of foreigners arriving from countries where there have been reported cases of SARS. Matvienko said that all necessary measures have been taken in Russia to prevent the spread of the virus epidemic. 'In regard to this question all is well in the country. We have taken extra measures throughout Russia including St. Petersburg. Therefore, there is nothing to worry about,' she said.

A large number of foreign participants are expected to arrive in St. Petersburg at the end of May. Onishchenko also says that it is necessary to limit tourist and business trips to countries where there have been reported cases of the SARS virus. SARS has been reported in 25 countries to date, but not in Russia.

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