Indian SARS cases could triple

Indian health authorities are awaiting the results of 13 suspected SARS cases, which if positive, could triple the country's known number of carriers.

Test results from two cases in Mumbai and a two cases in Delhi are also awaited though India's health ministry believes they could merely be "silent carriers" who themselves do not have any symptoms of SARS.

The ministry has asked all local state governments to provide the number of suspected cases in each area and any treatment provided.

Health experts say people are most likley to be infective when they have symptoms such as fever or cough. However, it is not known how long before or after their symptoms begin that patients with SARS might be able to transmit the disease to others.

A person suspected to be suffering from SARS was admitted to Christian Medical College (CMC), Vellore, 130 kilometres away from Chennai on Saturday.

The hospital reported Mr Ezhumalai, 40, from Sandhavasal, a small village in the Thiruvannamalai district, showed symptoms of the syndrome.

Mr Ezhumalai had returned from Singapore and travelled home briefly before being placed in an isolation ward at the hospital where Dr Kurien Thomas, Professor of Medicine CMC, has been treating him.

All 14 of his family members living in the village have been brought under strict observation by the district administration, according to District Collector, Mr Mohan Doss.

Curing the incurable

In other Indian SARS news, a social worker and journalist from the East Indian port town of Kakinada claims severe acute respiratory syndrome is curable.

Krishnaji who works for Bharath Sevak Samaj - a Slum community development non-government organisation - told a press conference last week: "The root of the Tulsi plant should be crushed and boiled with turmeric powder for a few minutes after which it should be filtered. Consuming two spoonfuls of this portion twice daily will cure SARS and prevent the subject contracting the disease."

Is this a realistic suggestion in the fight against the SARS epidemic? Medical experts have yet to comment.