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UK practices back out of SARS-ridden Hong Kong

The threat of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) virus has forced some British practices to suspend the movement of staff between the UK and Hong Kong.

The virus - which has claimed 94 lives so far on the former colony - is threatening the ability of British firms to work in the province.

London-based Benoy has stopped staff from travelling to its Hong Kong office and has insisted that its residents take all precautions possible 'including wearing masks at their desks'.

A spokesman said the firm has considered putting into quarantine an interior designer who was in Hong Kong on business when the outbreak began. 'After medical advice we decided she could return to London, ' she said.

However, RMJM, which has a large division in Hong Kong, said the firm considers the issue 'a matter of personal choice', insisting that it would be reticent about enforcing a ban.

And Foster and Partners, which won a design competition to masterplan the 40ha West Kowloon entertainment and culture district last year (AJ 7.3.02), said it would not let SARS affect the scheme.

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