Updated at 4.03pm: The World Health Organisation (WHO) announced on Monday it will remove Hong Kong from its list of Sars-affected areas after the territory reported no new Sars infections for 20 consecutive days. The WHO said 20 consecutive days had passed since the last confirmed severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) case and the chain of human to human transmission was considered broken, 'thus eliminating the risk of infection for both local residents and travellers'. 'This is a very significant achievement,' said Doctor David Heymann, executive director of Communicable Diseases at WHO. 'Hong Kong, with its dense population and fluid border with China, had one of the hardest outbreaks to control. This success means that the whole world can now feel safer from the Sars threat.' Meanwhile, Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa met the media at the Amoy Gardens housing estate - the epicentre of the most virulent Sars strain during the outbreak - to welcome the news. Mr Tung said he wanted to pay respects to the people who had suffered most during the Sars crisis by making the important announcement at the estate. 'I decided a long time ago that whenever Hong Kong was to be removed from the list, I would have to express my sorrow to the victims here,' he said. Responding to a reporter's question on celebratory activities, Mr Tung said: 'The word 'celebration' may not be a very suitable one, as so many people have died. But we should be proud of what we have overcome.' He did not comment on whether any people should be held responsible in the outbreak. 'It is true that we did not act promptly at the early stage of the crisis as we did not have enough experience in handling such a crisis at the time,' Mr Tung said. An infected Guangdong medical doctor, Liu Jianlun, first carried the disease to the Metropole Hotel in Mongkok in late February where 16 visitors and guests became infected. Afterward, a 26-year-old man, who had visited the hotel and was hospitalised on March 4, spread the virus to the medical staff at the Prince of Wales Hospital. The outbreak at the hospital was then followed by a larger outbreak at Amoy Gardens in late March where over 300 residents were infected with the disease due to an 'unlucky' convergence of environmental factors that allowed the contamination of vertically-linked apartments. The WHO advised travellers on April 2 to consider postponing all but essential travel to Hong Kong. The travel warning was removed more than seven weeks later on 23 May. Over 1,750 people contracted Sars and almost 300 of them have died from the disease since the outbreak.