Emergencies preparedness, response

Update 73 - No new deaths, but vigilance needed for imported cases

4 June 2003

As of today, a cumulative total of 8402 probable SARS cases with 772 deaths has been reported from 29 countries. This represents an increase of 10 new cases compared with yesterday. The new cases were reported in Canada (5), Hong Kong (1), Taiwan (2), Germany (1), and the USA (1).

No new deaths were reported today. This marks the first day with no new SARS deaths since 28 March, when the cumulative totals stood at 1485 cases and 53 deaths.

The peak numbers of deaths occurred during the second week of March, when as many as 20 new deaths were being reported on some days.

With outbreaks at all the initial “hot zones” either contained or coming under control, SARS is clearly in decline, indicating that recommended control measures are effective when combined with political commitment and determination.

The fact that the chain of transmission has been broken in Viet Nam and Singapore underscores the WHO position that SARS can be contained, despite the absence of a vaccine, robust diagnostic test and specific treatment. Control currently depends on prompt detection and isolation of cases, good infection control in hospitals, and the tracing and quarantine of contacts.

Viet Nam has remained free of new SARS cases since 8 April. In Singapore, the last locally acquired probable case was isolated on 11 May. No new cases have since been detected in either country despite a high level of alert and aggressive investigation of all rumoured cases.

The experience in Toronto, where more than 70 new cases have been reported since 26 May, underscores the risk of a resurgence of cases and the constant need for vigilance. A single imported case can reignite an outbreak or bring cases to a new area, if preparedness measures are weak.

The new case reported today in Germany, in a man recently returned from Taiwan, has resulted in the quarantine of around 50 contacts. The man has been hospitalized in isolation.