March 28, 2003
(Health and Community Services)

Update on Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)

Public health officials from the Department of Health and Community Services remind the public that while there have been no cases of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) reported in Newfoundland and Labrador, it is important to be conscious of the factors related to this infection.

All individuals with this infection have either traveled to Asia (specifically Hanoi, Vietnam; Hong Kong; China; and Singapore) or have had close contact with other persons diagnosed with SARS. Close contact is defined as having cared for, lived with or had face-to-face (within 1 metre) contact with, or having had direct contact with respiratory secretions and/or body fluids of a person with SARS.

The symptoms related to SARS include a fever over 38 degrees Celsius and one or more of the following respiratory symptoms: cough, shortness of breath, and difficulty breathing.

"There is no change in the situation in our province, and there is no need for alarm" said Dr. Faith Stratton, chief medical officer of Health for Newfoundland and Labrador. "However, I do want to remind the public who have traveled to Asia recently or have come in contact with individuals diagnosed with SARS to be aware of the symptoms related to this infection. If individuals have traveled to the affected countries in the past 10 days and have symptoms related to this infection, they should call ahead to their family physician or local emergency department to discuss the symptoms and travel history and arrange for a medical assessment."

Safeguards are in place at international airports receiving direct and indirect flights from the areas of Asia identified above. For those airports receiving indirect flights from Asia, such as St. Johnís, information cards are provided to travelers on their arrival to make them aware of SARS and the precautions they should take following their travel.

At this time, Health Canada is recommending that persons planning to travel to these areas should defer all travel until further notice. Health Canada also recommends alternate routing be considered, when possible, if a traveler is transiting through City of Hanoi, Vietnam; the Peopleís Republic of China including Hong Kong; or Singapore. he travel advisory is available on Health Canadaís web site at

"We continue to work together both at a national and provincial level to prevent the spread of this infection," said Dr. Stratton. "Locally, we are continuing our surveillance activities within our public health regions throughout the province."

Media contact: Diane Keough, Communications, (709) 729-1377.

2003 03 28                                       4:05 p.m.

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