SARS: Precautions in place pending test results

SARS: Precautions in place pending test results

Test results that will establish whether a Pretoria businessman has the
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) are expected some time on Wednesday
9 April.

However, precautions are in place at the hospital where he is being treated
to ensure that there is no infection risk too hospital workers and other patients.

In addition, those people who might have been infected through earlier contact with the patient are being traced to establish whether they have any symptoms of the syndrome. This serves a dual purpose: early care in event any of them becoming ill and containment of further transmission.

Outbreak response teams are being strengthened at national level and I n Gauteng, (the province that experiences the biggest volumes of traffic from affected areas in Asia) in order to manage the SARS situation. These teams will be reviewing whether the steps already in place at our airports are adequate.

Presently passengers arriving from destinations where SARS is prevalent are informed about the symptoms and told how to respond should they develop similar symptoms within a fortnight of their return. Several patients have become ill and been tested but all, so far, have tested negative and recovered.

In addition, there is communication with the public and private hospitals to ensure that their infection control teams can react appropriately to suspected SARS cases.

With passengers coming in daily from affected destinations, there is a possibility that South Africa will see a small number of “imported SARS cases. But it should be possible to ensure that no further infection occurs on our soil. There is no reason at this point to view SARS as a threat to our population at large.

We would like to repeat the advice of the World Health Organisation that people intending to travel to Hong Kong and Guangdong Province in Chinas should only do so if they cannot postpone or cancel their visits.

Jo-Anne Collinge

Department of Health spokesperson.

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