Emergencies preparedness, response

Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in Singapore

10 September 2003

Disease Outbreak Reported

Singapore has a laboratory-confirmed case of SARS coronavirus (CoV) infection. This single case is in a 27-year-old postgraduate medical student who worked in a virology laboratory in Singapore. The patient developed fever, was hospitalized, isolated and his fever has now resolved. Contact tracing is continuing but it has not identified any secondary cases arising from this infection.

It is well recognized that most viruses can cause a range of illness from mild to severe. The goal of WHO’s SARS guidance in the post-outbreak period is to rapidly identify threats to global public health. Consequently, WHO’s case definitions are designed to provide early warning and give health officials direction for responding to a new outbreak of SARS. The Singapore case is mild, isolated and has not produced secondary cases, and therefore is not regarded as a public health concern.

WHO continues to applaud Singapore’s public health officials for the openness with which they have responded to this event and the rapid precautions taken to contain a possible threat.

Since there is a suggestion that this case may have resulted from a laboratory accident, WHO will be addressing the issue of laboratory safety at its meeting of SARS scientific advisors next month in Geneva.

To conclude, in relation to SARS, Singapore continues to be a safe destination for travellers, and travellers from Singapore pose no risk to other countries.

This event is not an international public health concern.