Mystery pneumonia strikes another 45 people as travel bookings drop 80pc and visitors cut short their holidays Travellers yesterday stayed away from Hong Kong as the number of patients stricken with a virulent strain of pneumonia doubled to 83. Industry sources said there had been a noticeable dip in arrivals from around the region on a day when the Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food, Yeoh Eng-kiong, announced that 45 more people had been admitted to hospital. Last night, 95 people were hospitalised, 83 of them with severe pneumonia. Dr Yeoh described the rise as 'alarming'' but still insisted there was 'no suggestion'' that the unidentified virus was prevalent in Hong Kong. He said that of the 45 new patients, 40 were diagnosed with pneumonia, including 15 medical students and 22 relatives and close contacts of the male patient who is believed to be the original carrier of the virus. The man was admitted to Prince of Wales Hospital early this month with a high fever. 'The patient that we now suspect to have pneumonia did not present with pneumonia. He presented with fever, so that patient may have been partly treated,'' Dr Yeoh said. Visitors to Hong Kong were yesterday voting with their feet in response to a global travel advisory issued on Saturday by the World Health Organisation. 'I am scheduled to fly to Hong Kong on Sunday night, but want to know the latest information before I decide to board that flight,'' one American traveller told the Post. An American expat said: 'My relatives were coming to Hong Kong as part of an Asian tour but not now. They are extending their stay in Japan for a week instead.'' Tour bookings from Southeast Asia have fallen by about 80 per cent in recent days, said executive director of the Travel Industry Council, Joseph Tung Yao-chung, who described the situation as 'quite serious'. Two international musicians have also cancelled appearances in Hong Kong because of the outbreak, although next week's Rolling Stones concerts are expected to go ahead. Those who went ahead with their trips said they did not want to stay one day longer than necessary. Taiwanese Natalia Chen said: 'I will leave here immediately after I have finished my business. Two-thirds of passengers on board the plane have brought masks with them.' More airlines yesterday joined Cathay Pacific in refusing to let passengers with flu-like symptoms board. A spokeswoman for United Airlines said: 'The airline will be on high alert for any cases involving passengers or crew members experiencing symptoms of SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome). United also advises passengers to seek medical attention before boarding should their health be in question.'' Local airline Dragonair confirmed an airport employee of its subsidiary company Hong Kong International Air Services Limited was in hospital with symptoms of atypical pneumonia. Dr Yeoh appealed to travellers to be sensible about the travel advisory: 'We are asking the international community to stay calm. I think we have a good chance of getting a good grip of the problem. 'We need to say that individuals who have respiratory symptoms may be advised not to travel. For the other travellers there should not be any restrictions,'' he said. The extent of the outbreak was being invetsigated, he added. One more cluster of private hospitals was being investigated as well as the four already covered. Among hospital workers, one more employee was diagnosed with atypical pneumonia at Pamela Youde Nethersole Hospital, bringing to 46 the number of staff in six public hospitals and one private clinic affected.