HC Deb 27 March 2003 vol 402 cc392-3W
Rev. Martin Smyth

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what his assessment is of the threat to the United Kingdom from the new virus from eastern Asia. [104401]

Ms Blears

[holding answer 25 March 2003]Of the cases of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) reported so far, almost all have occurred in health care workers involved in the direct care of a reported case or in close contacts, such as family members. There is no evidence to date that the disease spreads through casual contact.

The threat to the United Kingdom from SARS therefore, at this time, appears to be small. Nonetheless, since the cause is yet unconfirmed, the UK has taken a precautionary stance.

The Department of Health and Public Health Laboratory Service (PHLS) issued information and advice on management and reporting of suspected cases to all general practitioners, trusts and public health professionals through the rapid public health link system on Thursday 13 March. We also issued advice to the public and travellers to South East Asia about SARS. Full information and advice has been kept up to date on the PHLS website www.phls.co.uk/topics_az/ SARS/menu.htm.

The Department of Health and PHLS continue to monitor the situation.

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