Press Release

Statement by the Department of Health and Children – SARS

The Expert Group on SARS held its weekly meeting today at the Department of Health and Children.

A number of issues, which are the subject of constant review, were discussed by the Group including the current epidemiology of the infection; the latest WHO figures in relation to the international incidences of the SARS virus; aspects of the hospital management of SARS and contingency planning in relation to SARS.

The Minister had given a commitment to the Irish Special Olympics Committee and the Special Olympics International Committee that they would have an opportunity to put proposals to the Expert Group. Proposals were received from the Special Olympics International Committee and from a number of countries with SARS affected areas. The Expert Group considered these proposals. It was also noted that in response to a request from the Irish Government the WHO advised that it would not be in a position to provide an external validation of any quarantine proposals for delegates from SARS affected areas.

Since May 15th, the Expert Group noted that further information concerning the situation in relation to SARS internationally has become available – the Philippines and Singapore have been declared SARS free and the situation in China is improving.

The Expert Group today considered the various submissions and in the light of the current situation advised the Minister as follows;

  1. The Expert Group reiterated its advice that delegates from SARS affected areas should be asked not to travel.
  2. The Expert Group is satisfied that delegates from SARS free regions should be free to attend the Special Olympic World Games. The implication of this advice is that delegations from areas within China and Canada where local transmission of SARS has not been reported by WHO, will be able to travel.
  3. All delegations participating in the Games will be asked to confirm in advance of travel that they have not been in a SARS affected area or in contact with a known SARS case in the previous 10 days

Arising from the advice of the Expert Group, the Chief Medical Officer will be in contact with the respective Embassies.