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March 31, 2003
For immediate release

Prince Edward Island Reports Suspected SARS Cases

Health and Social Services

Chief Health Officer Dr. Lamont Sweet confirmed late this afternoon that there are four suspected cases of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome being monitored in Prince Edward Island.

Within the past 24 hours, two children and two adults from one household developed symptoms of the illness. The family returned from a trip to China last week. All were seen by health service providers who were following the recommended precautionary measures. The family is at home and not seriously ill. They will continue to be monitored by the public health system.

Following their return from China late last week, the two children did go to West Royalty School on Friday morning, but they were sent home before going to class. One other child attended Queen Charlotte Intermediate on Friday but still has no symptoms of SARS.

According to National protocols, a person is not considered contagious until symptoms have developed. The children were not symptomatic at the time that they attended school on Friday. They developed symptoms on Sunday evening, so teachers and children at the school are not considered at risk.

The Department of Education and the Eastern School Board have been advised of the situation. "Based on National protocols, there is no need to close these schools," said Dr. Sweet.

A "suspect" case of SARS is a person who fits into one of the following two categories: a person who develops fever and one or more respiratory symptoms, including cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, within 10 days of returning from travel to areas in Asia where SARS cases are being reported, or had close contact with a "probable" case of SARS.

The Chief Health Officer has established a telephone line to answer questions about SARS. Islanders with concerns, or questions can call 368-4532.

Media Contact: Connie McNeill
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