SARS Update

Well, Asian stocks crashed yesterday over fears of a potential new SARS outbreak, but it seems people are keeping the one isolated case in Singapore in perspective.

As usual, the government took drastic but appropriate action, quarantining lots of people, closing down buildings and putting the hospitals on high alert.

Today’s paper praises the rapid response and compares it with that of other former SARS havens:

Should Sars again rear its head when winter approaches, a very real fear that has been giving public health administrators sleepless nights as the year draws to a close, an attitude like Singapore’s could save the world from another epidemic.

When Sars first emerged, China’s obstinacy in not acknowledging the disease was largely responsible for its spread from one province to the world at large. Worldwide, almost 8,500 people fell ill and more than 800 died.

Some countries during the outbreak were more concerned with hiding the truth than facing facts. Canada especially spent much energy trying to disassociate itself from the outbreak, denying every fresh incident and getting upset with WHO for listing it as an unsafe destination.

According to the radio news this morning, the big question mark here is how the 27-year-old lab worker got SARS. The government is saying it’s likely he got it from his work in labs that keep live SARS samples, but the labs are insisting it is extremely unlikely due to the stringent safety measures there. This is part of what makes SARS so insidious. He must have come into contact with it somewhere, and until that question is answered, no one can feel completely safe.

Some schools here have announced they are reinstituting daily temperature checks for students, which I think is a bit of an over-reaction. But when it comes to SARS, over-vigilant is way better than not vigilant enough.

The Discussion: 2 Comments

Actually, according to news in Arizona (take it with a grain of salt), the reports are now that it wasn’t a case of SARS, but malaria.

They are trying to figure out how he got malaria.

September 11, 2003 @ 4:35 am | Comment

Not a word about this update on the Straits Times web site.

September 11, 2003 @ 5:16 am | Comment

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