Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)201041632053

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					                 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)
                  Occupational Health and Safety Guidelines
You may be aware of recent reports of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (known as SARS)
in a number of overseas countries. The following advice about SARS is from the ACT Chief
Health Officer.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade upgraded its travel advice on 2 April 2003 and
now “strongly recommends that Australians consider deferring non-essential travel” to China,
in particular Guangdong Province, Hong Kong and nearby areas of the mainland, Singapore,
Vietnam and Toronto, Canada. It is strongly recommended that this website is consulted for
the most up-to-date information (

Most respiratory infections in travellers returning from affected areas will not be SARS. The
SARS virus appears to be transmitted via respiratory droplets during close contact. Health
care workers and family members of infected persons are at greatest risk.

The symptoms and signs of SARS
A diagnosis of SARS is made on clinical grounds and travel history, including:
    •   High fever (>38ºC) and one or more respiratory symptoms including cough, shortness
        of breath, difficulty breathing AND:
    •   close contact with a person who has been diagnosed with SARS or
    •   recent history of travel to areas reporting cases of SARS.
There is no evidence to suggest that asymptomatic contacts pose a risk of infection to others.
Pathology tests for SARS are under development.

Infection Control
The Commonwealth Government gazetted SARS as a quarantinable disease on 8 April 2003.
This action will complement State and Territory public health legislation by ensuring that
effective measures can be imposed quickly to stop the spread of this disease should cases
arrive in Australia.
At this time, in the absence of fever or respiratory symptoms, persons (except health-care
workers) who may have been exposed to SARS need not limit their activities outside the
home and should not be excluded from school or work.
With quarantine measures now in place at international ports, these persons do not need
medical review in the ACT before resuming (or beginning) their usual daily activities.
Medical advice should be sought if there is any doubt about the health status; hosts of visiting
students need to be aware of their responsibility here. ACT Health has provided guidelines
for education facilities regarding the management of students and staff arriving from or
travelling overseas.

Occupational Health and Safety Guidelines
To reduce the risk of transmission of any disease, including SARS, wash hands frequently
with soap and use disposable paper towels.
As SARS is not spreading in Australia, extraordinary measures, such as the wearing of masks
in the workplace, are not recommended (except in specific healthcare settings).

If a possible case of SARS is detected in an employee or other person attending a workplace,
the Communicable Disease Control (CDC), ACT Health, will provide advice on infection
control, working with healthcare providers.

All ACT hospitals and medical practitioners have been provided with infection control
guidelines for caring for people presenting with possible SARS infection. In healthcare
settings, personal protective equipment appropriate for standard, contact and airborne
precautions, including gowns, masks, gloves and protective eyewear, must be used.

Further Information
    •   Commonwealth Dept. of Health and Ageing SARS Hotline– 1800 044 599 (9:00am–
        8:00pm daily) or
    •   Personal health queries – General Practitioners
    •   Communicable Disease Control Section, ACT Health – 6205 2155
    •   Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
    •   World Health Organisation

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