WHO Urges Vigilance Over SARS-Like Virus


The World Health Organisation (WHO) is urging countries to be vigilant over the spread of a potentially fatal SARS-like virus, according to a 16 February article from www.france24.com

In fact, in recent weeks there has been a ‘rash’ of public health scares in various parts of the world. For astute building service contractors and multi-service providers possessing the intellectual and physical resources to provide appropriate public health services, the competitive opportunities are obvious.

"Based on the current situation and available information, WHO encourages all Member States to continue their surveillance for severe acute respiratory infections (SARI) and to carefully review any unusual patterns," the United Nations health agency said in a statement.

As stated in the article, British health authorities said that a third member of a family had been diagnosed with so-called novel coronavirus, but was not in danger. However, one member of the family became the first UK victim of the virus, passing away on 19th February in a Birmingham hospital. ’He is believed to have caught the virus from his father who had recently travelled to Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. The father remains severely ill in hospital in Manchester, where he was transferred for treatment on an ECMO machine, which oxygenates the blood when the lungs fail’, stated the www.independent.co.uk article.

Following this was the evacuation of Pentucket Regional High school in West Newbury, Massachusetts (US), where 140 students were sent home complaining of stomach illness, as reported on www.ksee24.com. The Massachusetts Department of Health said a large number of students at the School had the norovirus with about 20 percent of students at the high school presenting symptoms of the gastrointestinal virus.

"Testing for the new coronavirus should be considered in patients with unexplained pneumonias, or in patients with unexplained severe, progressive or complicated respiratory illness not responding to treatment," it added.

Clusters of cases, and cases among health workers, should be thoroughly investigated wherever they occur, it underlined.

A total of 12 cases have been reported to the WHO, with five of them fatal — three in Saudi Arabia and two in Jordan. Coronaviruses are to blame for most common colds but can also cause SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome).

A SARS epidemic killed more than 800 people when it swept out of China in 2003, sparking a major international health scare.