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HONG KONG - An April Fool's Day rumor started by a 14-year-old schoolboy that the city of Hong Kong was being declared an "infected area" and shut down because of SARS disease, sparked a wild rush on supermarkets, according to reports.
The message, posted on a Web site Tuesday, said Hong Kong would be closed to the rest of the world due to the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome outbreak that is spreading throughout Asia.
The false report came as the Hong Kong government was preparing to move 200 residents to a quarantine camp in an effort to stop the disease, which so far has killed 16 and infected 700 in Hong Kong.
Shoppers swarmed supermarkets, and the panic buying abated only after the Hong Kong government dismissed the information. The fears also caused panic in the local financial markets, with the Hang Seng index plunging about 100 points.
The student was arrested at his home in Tai Po and released on $128.00 bail.