A 20 year old nurse, currently in intensive care in Beijing,
is a suspected case of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), according
to a World Health Organization (WHO) press statement released on Thursday
22 April . The Chinese Ministry of Health informed the WHO that initial
results of blood tests obtained on 22 April, indicated a likely infection
with the SARS coronavirus, although this has not yet been confirmed. An investigation
has started, which includes extensive laboratory testing.
The index patient developed SARS-like symptoms on 5 April and was admitted
to hospital on 7 April. On 14 April, she was transferred to intensive care
at another Beijing hospital, as her condition had not improved. One hundred
and seventy one contacts have been identified and placed under observation.
Five of these have developed a fever.
Other reports of cases are under investigation-see http://www.who.int
for up-to-date information.
China has a well developed system for the detection and investigation of
possible cases of SARS. Staff at the WHO Beijing office have considerable
experience and are being kept closely informed by the Chinese Ministry of
The European Commission Directorate General for Public Health
and Consumer Protection (DG SANCO, http://europa.eu.int/comm/health/index_en.htm)
has previously issued several technical guidance documents outlining the
communication procedures if a probable case of SARS is detected within European
Union countries. This document also includes case definitions (see http://europa.eu.int/comm/health/ph_threats/com/sars/com_procedure.pdf).
An early warning, regarding the current Beijing suspect case of SARS, has
been sent to national public health bodies through the European Union’s
Early Warning and Response System.
The United Kingdom (UK) Health Protection Agency (HPA, http://www.hpa.org.uk)
recently issued interim guidance (algorithm) for identification of possible
cases of SARS and avian influenza (http://www.hpa.org.uk/infections/topics_az/avianinfluenza/pdfs/Algorithm140404.pdf).
The HPA has urged clinicians and health professionals in the UK to remain
vigilant and report any unusual clusters of severe respiratory illness in
people returning from China.
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (http://www.cdc.gov)
has also issued a press release and health alert. See http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/sars/han/beijing22apr2004.htm.