SARS Cases Fall in China, Rise in Canada
WHO 'Cautiously Optimistic' China SARS Outbreak Under Control
May 30, 2003 -- The SARS outbreak in China that seemed to be
raging out of control less than two weeks ago now appears to be tapering off
while a new cluster of cases has emerged in Toronto, Canada.
The number of new SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome)
cases in China averaged around 150 per day in mid-May, but in recent days that
number has dropped to the single digits with only three new cases reported
yesterday and seven today. The three new cases reported yesterday previously
had been classified as suspected cases and were already in the hospital. A
total of 5,325 SARS cases and 327 deaths have been reported in mainland China
since the SARS outbreak began in the Guangdong province in November.
Officials at the World Health Organization say they are
"cautiously optimistic that outbreaks in mainland China are being brought
under control in provinces with good surveillance and reporting systems and
good infection control in hospitals."
As an additional precaution, Chinese health officials have
discontinued the use of air conditioning in public places to prevent the spread
of SARS -- even though the WHO still has no proof that SARS can be transmitted
though the air or that air conditioning systems may play a role in the spread
WHO and CDC officials say all evidence suggests that SARS is
primarily spread through close, person-to-person contact with infected droplets
released by coughing or sneezing.
New Cases in Canada
Meanwhile, Canadian officials are currently investigating a new
cluster of SARS cases that began emerging a week ago. Eight new probable SARS
cases in Canada were reported to the WHO today, bringing the country's total
number of cases to 159 and 28 deaths.
Ontario's Commissioner of Public Health says a link has been
established between the new SARS outbreak and the original cluster of cases. An
individual from the current cluster apparently had contact with the original
group, which would have provided a means a transmission.
Canadian officials say that link is important because it shows
there is no evidence of widespread SARS in Canada. On May 26, the WHO added
Toronto to its list of countries where SARS is being transmitted locally, but
it has not recommended any travel advisories for the region.
Canadian officials protested a previous travel advisory issued
by the WHO on April 23 that recommended against travel to Toronto. Those travel
restrictions were lifted on April 29.
The SARS outbreak has remained relatively stable and contained
in the U.S. The CDC is currently investigating 66 probable SARS cases and 297
suspected cases. Of the 66 probable SARS cases, 64 are among people who
traveled to an area with local SARS transmission and the remaining two include
a household contact of an infected SARS patient and a healthcare worker who
cared for a SARS patient.