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Doctors set to tackle pneumonia threat

posted on 19/03/2003: 1907 views



The Ministry of Health will strengthen the local response to the emergence of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), an infectious disease characterised by pneumonia-like symptoms. After an emergency meeting here yesterday the Ministry officials urged travellers arriving from South Asian countries who show pneumonia symptoms within five days to report immediately to the nearest clinic or hospital. All directors of preventive medicine departments were present at the meeting.



Doctors have been asked to inform the Ministry if they come across any case of this mystery illness. The move was taken after the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned last Saturday that a highly contagious and deadly pneumonia of unknown cause is fast becoming a worldwide threat. The Ministry of Health has sent circulars to all airports to look out for passengers with symptoms of this pneumonia. The country's other entry point - seaports, through which seamen enter - also work in coordination with Ministry officials.



The authorities stressed yesterday that the UAE is free of the killer virus, with the ministry's steps being taken more as a precaution in the likelihood of any untoward incident. They also quashed rumours about infection to some healthcare workers in a private hospital. The disease is transmitted from person to person, and the incubation period is from two to seven days.



SARS symptoms are high fever, shortness of breath, coughing or breathing difficulty. In addition, a WHO's notification warns that SARS may be associated with headache, muscular stiffness, loss of appetite, malaise, confusion, rash and diarrhoea. The disease of unknown origin doesn't appear to respond to standard treatments, prompting the WHO to describe the infection as a global threat. (The Gulf News)

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