WHO experts find no under reporting of SARS in Shanghai

WHO experts find no under reporting of SARS in Shanghai

A team of experts from the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) has concluded that the case burden of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in Shanghai is not higher than officially reported, saying it found no evidence of systematic underreporting during a preliminary assessment.

The six-person team has been in the Shanghai since last Monday at the invitation of city authorities, WHO said, examining the SARS surveillance and reporting system, and visiting 10 health facilities and three district Centres for Disease Control.

The experts said they were given free access to all requested data, patient registries and facilities visited on very short notice. They are continuing to assess the SARS situation there, but in their preliminary report presented on Saturday concluded that reporting of cases appeared to be “open, frank, and accurate.”

In addition, the level of preparedness and response was good, the WHO team said. Over the past three to four weeks, authorities designated two hospitals as dedicated to the treatment of SARS patients and set up cough and fever clinics.

Many questions, however, remain about why Shanghai has been spared a SARS outbreak on the scale of that seen in Beijing, the experts stated. Had a larger number of cases occurred, it is not certain whether the systems presently in place would have been able to cope.

As of Saturday, there have been 4,836 cases of SARS, resulting in 293 deaths, in 26 countries.