SARS Halts New Mormon Missionaries to Hong Kong

The Mormon Church is not sending any new missionaries to Hong Kong, which has been hardest hit by the SARS virus, a church spokeswoman said on Monday.

Officials at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as the Mormon Church is formally called, are monitoring the situation daily and will not send any more young missionaries until further evaluations are made, she said.

Hong Kong has been the hardest hits by SARS, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, with 94 dead.

Kim Farah, spokeswoman for the Salt Lake City-based Mormon Church, said the church has been sending missionaries to Hong Kong since 1950. Exact figures were not available, she said, but the typical missionary group is between 100 and 200.

She said none of the missionaries in Hong Kong has come down with SARS and no missionaries have ended their term since the outbreak of SARS. "So there have not been any problems with people returning," she said.

The church has not halted sending missionaries to other Asian countries, she said.

SARS, has killed more than 200 people and infected about 4,000 in 25 countries. The flu-like disease first appeared in China's southern province of Guangdong.