Don't let guard down vs Sars -- WHO rep

By Yolando S. Fuertes

URDANETA -- Jan Marc Olive, Philippine representative of the World Health Organization (WHO), called on health authorities to remain vigilant against the recurrence of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (Sars) in the country.

Olive said no one can be sure when the disease, which killed two Filipinos last April, will reappear.

Although there is no Sars case abroad so far and that the last case two weeks ago in Singapore was a laboratory contamination, there's still a possibility that outbreaks of the disease could occur again, Marc said

Olive added that a full year of occurrence is needed to find out what exactly causes Sars. "We need to know what's in the environment that causes it."

However, he said whatever caused the disease is not in the Philippines because "what we had here was imported and that if the disease returns, it would come probably from the same area -- Hong Kong."

Last April, a 46-year-old woman and her father in Alcala in Pangasinan died of Sars.

Adela Catalon arrived from Canada, where she contracted the disease and passed it on to her ailing father Mauricio.

Olive advised health authorities to continue surveillance, information campaign and checking all points of entry in the country to prevent the "importation of the virus that causes Sars."

"All that has been put in place by the government (to combat Sars) is still there and are functioning. So we have a system still on alert (in case) importation comes up. But as for the moment, Sars intermission has been interrupted all over the world," he said.

He lauded the government "for doing pretty well" in fighting Sars and for putting up rehabilitation hospitals, infection control areas and training people on how to handle Sars cases.

"We did pretty well because we did not get transmissions in the country," he added. Sun.Star Pangasinan


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