Singapore Scans People's Body Heat To Spot SARS

Apr 23, 2003 (10:04 AM EDT)

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SINGAPORE (AP)--Singapore reported one new SARS death Wednesday, bringing the city-state's toll to 17, as fears of the flu-like illness prompted authorities to use high-tech equipment to screen travelers and cut airport landing fees for the hard-hit airline industry.

A 74-year-old patient died after being infected at Singapore General Hospital, the Health Ministry said in a statement. No further details were provided.

To prevent SARS from spreading, the government said it would use state-of-the-art thermal imaging scanners at its border with Malaysia and at the city-state's airport to screen people for signs of the disease.

Passengers who show up on the camera screen as "hot bodies," or with a temperature greater than 37.5 degrees Celsius (99.5 degrees Fahrenheit), will be pulled aside for further health checks.

"There will now be 100 percent screening for all (outbound) passengers from SARS-affected areas, including Singapore," said Transport Minister Yeo Cheow Tong. Screening for all passengers arriving from SARS-hit countries has already begun.

From mid-May, all inbound and outbound passengers would be screened, he added.

Aviation authorities also announced that landing fees at Changi Airport will be slashed starting May 1 to Singapore dlrs 2,145 (US$1,205) for a Boeing 747 aircraft, down from S$3,315 (US$1,862) now. The figure varies depending on the type of aircraft, Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore spokeswoman Julia Jemangin said.

Singapore also reported three new cases of severe acute respiratory syndrome for a total of 189. Globally, at least 250 people have died and more than 4,000 have contracted the illness.