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Guidelines set to fight SARS recurrence
( 2003-08-30 06:54) (China Daily)

The Ministry of Health kicked off a national campaign on Friday to prevent a recurrence of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) epidemic, which it is feared might break out again this autumn or winter, issuing nationwide anti-SARS guidelines for the country's health system.

Top health officials from all provincial governments of the country wound up a two-day conference on Friday in Beijing, at which they studied the guidelines and discussed how to work and co-operate better in preventing another SARS outbreak, an official told China Daily.

"These officials will go back to their own regions to make their own working plans following the national guidelines, with adjustments for the actual situation in their regions," said Yang Jinrui, an official from the Ministry of Health.

The guidelines, in seven sections, include such items as work aims, case diagnosis and reporting, prevention and control, medical treatment, alerts and emergency aid, and examination of the effectiveness of supervision and management procedures.

Meanwhile, to ensure that any possible SARS cases are identified and reported as soon as possible, the ministry also issued a special programme to highlight surveillance, reporting, information exchange and communication on SARS.

A national drill on how to deal with an outbreak of SARS will be held before September 30 to ensure that the various departments and regions co-ordinate, communicate and co-operate smoothly, according to the new guidelines.

The guidelines stipulate that a State-level group of experts must get to any site where a suspected SARS case is found within 24 hours to decide whether it is SARS or not.

The guidelines list Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai and Guangzhou, with their large floating populations, as major regions for SARS prevention work.

Special attention also should be given to medical workers, migrant farm workers, hospitals, schools, kindergartens, and construction sites, according to the guidelines.

The guidelines also separate SARS into three categories according to degree of seriousness and range of the disease.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has also recently launched a document, similar to the guidelines, including alerting the public and verification of SARS cases, Maria Cheng, a spokeswoman for the WHO office in Beijing, told China Daily on Friday.

"Our knowledge about the epidemiology and ecology of SARS coronavirus infection and of this disease remains limited," according to the WHO document.

In the post-outbreak period, all countries must remain vigilant for the recurrence of SARS and maintain their capacity to detect and respond to the re-emergence of SARS should it occur, according to the document.

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