BEIJING, May 11 (UPI) -- At least nine more people died Sunday from severe acute respiratory syndrome in Asia, though China reported 69 new cases, the lowest one-day increase in weeks.
The Chinese Health Ministry announced five new SARS-related deaths and said the total number of cases increased to 4,948; 240 people have died from the disease in the mainland while 1,652 have been discharged from hospital, it said.
In Hong Kong, health officials announced three more SARS deaths, and four new cases, the lowest one-day increase since it began keeping records of the disease in March.
Hong Kong's Department of Health also said it will challenge a travel advisory issued by the World Health Organization, which requires fewer than 60 people to be hospitalized with SARS for a region to be declared safe.
"We still have to negotiate and discuss with the WHO about the figure of 60 because that would be dependent on the treatment protocol and the way the patients are treated," said Health Director Margaret Chan. "On the safe side, in Hong Kong when a patient has recovered, they would keep the patient in hospital for another five days so that would have an impact on the figure of 60."
In Taiwan, the death toll rose to 20, according to government statistics released Sunday. A nurse from a Taipei hospital died from the disease Sunday. The official Central News Agency said her death was the 19th fatality in Taiwan.
A total of 1,099 SARS cases have been reported in Taiwan. The figure includes 184 probable cases and 239 suspected cases.
Taiwan also ordered all subway riders in Taipei to wear medical masks to prevent the spread of the flu-like disease that has killed more than 500 people worldwide.
Of the at least 536 fatalities thus far, mainland China has had 240, Hong Kong 215, Singapore 28, Canada 23, Vietnam 5 and the Philippines and Thailand two each.