The first major conference on the deadly SARS epidemic has opened in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur today. More than 1,000 scientists and clinicians gathered to examine how hard-hit regions responded to the outbreak, review scientific findings and talk about control strategies for a disease that has so far killed 799 people and infected 8,460.
The meeting in Kuala Lumpur will also look to see whether SARS can be eradicated and try to raise coordination between countries in case SARS recurs or there's an outbreak of other communicable diseases. The two-day meeting, convened by the World Health Organization, comes at an upbeat moment in the disease's course.
For the first time since November, neither Taiwan, Hong Kong, nor mainland China reported any new cases on Monday. While the WHO has already removed its travel advisory against Hong Kong, an official from the U.N. agency says the territory could be removed from its list of SARS-infected areas as early as next week.
Countries hardest-hit by SARS plan to present papers at the conference detailing their experiences with the disease, and delegates will discuss strategies for controlling and preventing SARS in the future.