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#11 - JRL 7208
Chief Health Physician Discusses Recovery of Sole SARS Patient, Virus

EVIAN, June 2 (Itar-Tass) -- Russian chief sanitary physician Gennady Onishchenko says a vaccine against the virus causing the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), also called atypical pneumonia, was likely to be designed within two years as a minimum.

He said in an interview with Itar-Tass that said research, design, trials and commencement of manufacture of the vaccine "in an ideal case" would take two years.

Onischenko is a member of Russia's delegation to the Group of Eight summit of most industrialized nations in Evian, France.

He said SARS was manageable in most of cases, including Russia's sole patient diagnosed with the mystery disease in Blagoveshchensk, where he "was treated with banal drugs".

SARS can be treated with conventional antibiotics, as "there is no drug with a one hundred percent guanaratee of cure of any virus", Onishchenko said.

He described SARS as a "disease of big cities", making a less threat in rural areas, except for China's.

Onishchenko said Russia's key task regarding SARS was "readiness of medial services".

Diagnostic laboratories will be set up in 70 regions, primarily in border areas. SARS training of medical personnel has begun in Russia.

Training courses were opened in Novosibirsk in the middle of May and will be set up in Moscow in June.

Onishchenko said measures to avert SARS on the days of jubilee celebrations in Russia's second city of St. Petersburg had been effective.

He said in an interview with Itar-Tass on Monday that medics checked 56 air flights and made questionnaire interviews of 1,635 people.

"All have filled the questionnaires, including very important persons, and this has been met with an understanding," Onishchenko said, adding "this "indicate high culture and understanding of the situation".

"Many honestly stated in the questionnaires that they had recently had contacts with visitors from China, Taiwan and Singapore or with those who had characteristic symptoms of atypical pneumonia - dry cough, temperature".

Onishchenko said positive answers in the questionnaires did not entail "discriminating measures" regarding the interviewed guests.

"Simply they were treated especially attentively," he said.

Onishchenko said the Russian government would soon issue a decree raising almost two times salaries of physicians, nurses and orderlies engaged in the management of SARS patients.

He said the SARS case registered in Blagoveshchensk, a city in the Russian Far East, remained the sole in the country.

The patient is recovering, and all anti-epidemiological measures related to this case had been lifted.

Onishchenko said there had been more than 30 suspected cases in Russia, but the disease had been rule doubt in all.

Meanwhile, an Itar-Tass correspondent in Blagoveshchensk said the condition of the SARS patient, 25-year-old Denis Soinikov, had been improving.

The regional epidemiological service's spokesperson Oksana Dmitrichenko told Itar-Tass that the "situation in this field in normal".

However, travel restrictions at the region's border gate with China remain in place, and disinfection of public transport is being continued.

Dmitrichenmko said these measures would be gradually withdrawn.

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