Hong Kong records its 10th straight day of declining infection numbers - but things are still grim on the mainland Hong Kong reported eight new Sars cases yesterday, its first single-digit daily increase as the decline in new infections continued for the 10th day. Although it is heartening news, the government said it would be difficult to predict if the trend would hold for such 'a capricious virus'. The eight cases, including one health-care worker from Tuen Mun Hospital, bring to 1,629 the number of cases since the severe acute respiratory syndrome outbreak began at the Prince of Wales Hospital in March. Five people died from Sars yesterday - four men and a woman aged between 43 and 78. All but one had been chronically ill. A total of 184 people have now been killed by the deadly lung infection. A further 19 people have recovered and been discharged from hospitals, for a total of 917, officials said. The daily infection numbers indicate whether the Sars outbreak is being contained and will be critical to a World Health Organisation decision on lifting an April 2 advisory warning people not to travel to Hong Kong. 'We are very pleased with the development,' said Director of Health Margaret Chan Fung Fu-chun. 'We hope this trend will be sustainable. For this to happen, we have to continue with our [anti-Sars] efforts. I'm loath to predict as to whether there will be a continuous downward trend. This is my hope and the hope of the rest of Hong Kong.'' But the outbreak continued to spread on the mainland, with 12 provinces reporting new cases. Overall there were 163 new cases reported and seven deaths. There are now 4,125 confirmed Sars cases and 197 deaths. Beijing's Sars-related death toll hit 100, with more than 15,000 in quarantine. But the city reported only 69 new cases, the lowest daily increase since officials stopped trying to cover up the outbreak two weeks ago. Inner Mongolia continued to be hard hit, reporting 35 new cases yesterday, bringing its total cases to 220. Hebei, which surrounds Beijing, reported 19 confirmed cases and two fatalities. For the first time in more than 10 days, two new confirmed cases were announced in Shanghai, bringing the reported number of cases in the country's economic hub to four. At least 20 health officials were either sacked or disciplined for failing to implement stringent measures to control the epidemic, including 10 officials in Longnan county, southern Jiangxi province. Five officials in central Anhui's Fuyang city were fired or disciplined for similar violations. Liu Yuxi, an official in Chaoyang city, northeastern Liaoning province, was sacked for failing to implement quarantine measures and monitor the return of migrant workers from Beijing. The head of the People's Hospital in Zhumadian city, Henan province, was also sacked. In Hong Kong, the WHO is to hold a video-conference with health authorities today to discuss if there have been 12 relapsed Sars patients. Liu Shao-haei, senior executive manager (professional services) of the Hospital Authority, said none of the 12 had been confirmed as suffering a Sars relapse.