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March 24, 2003
For immediate release

Chief Health Officer Releases Recommendations for Patients with Possible Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)

Health and Social Services

Chief Health Officer, Dr. Lamont Sweet, advised today that Islanders who may be at risk for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) should call their health service provider before seeking medical attention. Symptoms of SARS include fever and either a cough, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath.

"With the number of SARS cases in Ontario increasing over the weekend, we need to ensure precautions are taken to protect the public and health professionals," said Dr. Sweet.

Persons at risk of SARS include those who have been in contact with an infected person over the past 10 days, or those who have been in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Guangdong Province of China, Hanoi or Singapore within the past 10 days. To date, 11 people have become ill with SARS in Ontario and British Columbia. All of these people have either recently travelled to Hong Kong or have had close contact with infected individuals.

"Patients with symptoms of SARS who have had recent contact with a known case or who have been in Southeast Asia within the past 10 days are asked to call their health service provider before going into the facility," Dr. Sweet advised. "Service providers may include doctors' offices, night or weekend clinics or hospital emergency departments. If people call ahead to the health service provider before being seen, arrangements can be made for proper precautions to be taken prior to the patient's arrival."

Health Canada has established a toll-free information line where Canadians can get more information on SARS: 1-800-454-8302.

Media Contact: Connie McNeill
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