Nov 30, 2004 (CIDRAP News) – The World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) top official in the western Pacific said yesterday that SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) cases may return this winter but probably not in large numbers.”I don’t think a large outbreak is likely,” Dr. Shigeru Omi, director of the WHO’s Western Pacific Regional Office, said in a speech in Hong Kong. Omi was quoted in a WHO news release.Omi said Asia is much better prepared for infectious diseases than it was a year ago. But he added that the SARS virus is almost certainly still circulating in animals in southern China and will continue to be a threat as long as it is present.Omi praised Hong Kong for its handling of the large SARS outbreak there in 2003. Saying the world owes the city a large debt, he added, “What was learned here was passed on to health authorities around the world. That way the global community benefited from Hong Kong’s skills and hard work.”He also said the threat of an influenza pandemic with possible “catastrophic consequences” has displaced SARS as the WHO’s main concern. Because of the risk that the avian influenza virus circulating in poultry in Asia will evolve into a form that could easily spread among people, he said, “We believe that the world is closer now than at any time in recent years to an influenza pandemic.”Only a handful of SARS cases occurred last winter and spring, including four in southern China’s Guangdong province in January and nine more in Beijing and the Anhui province of China in April. The WHO counted 8,096 cases worldwide, 774 of them fatal, in the initial SARS outbreaks from November 2002 through July 2003.
A Gold Coast man has bought his mum the ultimate Mother’s Day gift – a house.Boat builder Jamen May, 38, spent his childhood shuffling from place to place as the price of rent skyrocketed and single mother Helen struggled to make ends meet.Helen is over the moon to be receiving the Tweed Heads home as her Mother’s Day gift.“Throughout my primary and high school years I can recall having to pack up nearly every 1-2 years,” May says.In those days, May made the secret vow to himself that he would one day buy Helen a place of her own – so she never had to move again.But life threw in its fair share of hurdles. Six years ago May was left critically injured after being hit by a drunk driver. He’s doing well now, but the recovery is ongoing. More recently, Helen’s mother fell down the stairs in her home, sustained a head injury and died. Helen was already on stress leave at work but these life-changing events pushed her over the edge. May recognised an opportunity to help out.“After months of looking around on realestate.com we finally found a dream house that was suitable in Tweed Heads West,” May says. “It’s only two bedrooms, but that’s all she needs.”“It’s still in suburbia but it feels like you’re in the rainforest,” May says.The spacious Inlet Drive home is set over three levels in a leafy rainforest setting. “It’s got a fireplace, which she always wanted,” May says. “It overlooks the river and is only 20 minutes from Coolangatta.”It’s also 15 minutes down the road from May’s own place, which he admits was a major drawcard. “She looks after my dog – a funny greyhound-border-collie-cross – so it helps!”The combustion fireplace is one of Helen’s favourite features of the home.Helen was previously living in the bay area of Brisbane in a pretty run-down rental. May says she would come to visit him and remark on how much she loved the Gold Coast beaches. “Now she’s close to all the surf beaches, and she’s got friends moving down that way too.”Your parents spend half their life looking after you, so you may as well return the favour.A bit of a handyman who spends most of his time off tending to his own renovations, May is already looking to build an underground driveway within the steep drive that currently exists.More from news02:37Purchasers snap up every residence in the $40 million Siarn Palm Beach North12 hours ago02:37International architect Desmond Brooks selling luxury beach villa1 day ago“Your parents spend half their life looking after you, so you might as well return the favour.”Helen’s spacious balcony is perfect for summer entertaining.After weeks of anticipation waiting to hear back on her loan approval, Helen’s house was finally settled last week. There’s still boxes everywhere but she’s moved in – just in time for Mother’s Day. “I bought her a bottle of Moet and gave her the keys to the house,” May says.”It couldn’t have worked out any better.”I bought her a bottle of Moet and gave her the keys to the house.To show her thanks, Helen has booked a mother and son yoga retreat in Bali. The two have never been on holiday together and are both eagerly anticipating the getaway. In the meantime, a low-key house warming is on the cards.“I’m sure there’ll be a few dinner invites too!”