Singapore increases measures to stop spread of SARS in hospitals - WHO

Singapore increases measures to stop spread of SARS in hospitals - WHO

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Following an outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) at a general hospital in Singapore, the United Nations health agency said local authorities have increased measures to prevent transmission in hospitals.

The UN World Health Organization (WHO) yesterday said the Singapore General Hospital outbreak is possibly linked to a health worker considered the country's fourth "super-spreader" - a source case that has, for unknown reasons, infected a large number of persons. Evidence suggests that such persons may have contributed to the evolution of SARS outbreaks around the world.

More than 20 people, nearly all nurses and doctors at the hospital, subsequently exhibited suspect symptoms, WHO said. Only seven have been diagnosed as "probable" SARS cases.

The Singapore health authorities have since increased measures to prevent such future outbreaks in health care facilities, including mandatory temperature checks for all staff, limiting hospital visitors, and isolation of all possible SARS cases.

Until recently, all cases in Singapore had had good epidemiological links to their source, primarily health workers and little signs of community spread beyond family members, the UN agency stated. Further work is now required to establish similar links for the more recent cases.

Meanwhile, WHO said their expert team in China will tomorrow start working with Beijing municipal health authorities to investigate the SARS outbreak there.

As of today, a cumulative total of 2,781 cases, with 111 deaths have been reported.