Viet Nam SARS-Free
28 April 2003 - The World Health Organization (WHO) is today removing Viet Nam from the list of countries with local transmission of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
This comes after careful monitoring of the country’s current situation, in which there have been no new reported cases of SARS since 8 April and no cases of spread to other countries. “Viet Nam has stopped the outbreak within its borders,” says Dr Pascale Brudon, WHO Representative to Viet Nam.
Viet Nam becomes the first country to be removed from the list of countries with local transmission of SARS. The status change for Viet Nam is especially significant because it was one of 4 countries initially identified by the WHO on March 15 as having local transmission of SARS. Viet Nam reported a total of 63 SARS cases and five deaths prior to 8 April.
The absence of any new cases for a continuous 20-day (as of April 28) period is an encouraging indicator that appropriate detection and protection measures, as recommended by the WHO, are able to contain outbreaks and prevent their further spread. Viet Nam is one of several countries affected by local transmission of SARS that have conscientiously implemented detection and protection measures including:
- prompt identification of persons with SARS, their movements and contacts;
- effective isolation of SARS patients in hospitals;
- appropriate protection of medical staff treating these patients;
- comprehensive identification and isolation of suspected SARS cases;
- exit screening of international travelers;
- timely and accurate reporting and sharing of information with other authorities and/or governments.
“Viet Nam has effectively worked in partnership with other governments, WHO and WHO’s partners to stop its outbreak of SARS,” says David Heymann, the Executive Director of the WHO’s Communicable Diseases Cluster, adding, “we are pleased that other countries in the region with local transmission of SARS are also following appropriate detection and protection measures, and cooperating with each other to do so.”
In a recent public address, the WHO’s Director-General, Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland, observed that the situation with SARS is at a stage where “we have a chance to contain it”. But, she added, efforts by countries need to be kept up and preventive-measures implemented diligently.