Press Release

Statement by Chief Medical Officer – Mass Gatherings

Dr Jim Kiely, Chief Medical Officer at the Department of Health& Children today, 17 May 2003, welcomed the further clarification provided by the World Health Organisation of their guidance for mass gatherings in relation to SARS.

In particular, he welcomed their reiteration that any decisions about such gatherings are left to the authority of individual countries, “based on their own assessment of the nature of the event.”

Dr Kiely also confirmed that he had spoken with senior officials in the WHO following the Expert Group´s recommendation to request certain countries to not attend the Special Olympics Games. He confirmed that the WHO had not criticised the recommendation and welcomed the comment made by Dr Mike Ryan of the WHO today, (16 May) that the WHO was “happy with the rationale” used for the recommendation.

A copy of the Chief Medical Officer´s statement on the recommendation (15 May) is available.