SARS: No public health concern over Singapore case says WHO

10th Sep 2003

The World Health Organisation has said that there is neither local nor international public health concerns after it confirmed that a 27-year-old lab technician has contracted a mild version of the SARS disease in Singapore.
In a statement on its web site the WHO said: ‘The Singapore case is mild, isolated and has not produced secondary cases, and therefore is not regarded as a public health concern…In relation to SARS, Singapore continues to be a safe destination for travellers, and travellers from Singapore pose no risk to other countries. This event is not an international public health concern.’ The WHO was concerned however that the disease had been contracted in a laboratory, and will be addressing the issue of lab safety at its next meeting.
The World Travel & Tourism Council has praised Singapore for its swift response - 25 people who have had contact with the man are in isolation. ‘The immediate isolation of the man and his contacts shows that the diligence is still there and that the authorities will take very measure to make sure SARS does not re-emerge,’ it said.
The WHO also gave the Singapore authorities its seal of approval: ‘for the openness with which they have responded to this event and the rapid precautions taken to contain a possible threat. During the major outbreak of the new disease between February and July, 33 people died in Singapore out of a world total of more than 800. Singapore, however, had one of the most stringent programmes to prevent the disease spreading, including fines or imprisonment for people breaking quarantine orders.


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