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Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome

Volume 404: debated on Tuesday 6 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what measures he has introduced to prevent the spread of SARS to Northern Ireland. [110905]

I am happy to confirm that there have not been any probable cases of SARS so far in Northern Ireland. The Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety has been working in close liaison with the Department of Health (DOH)(L) and arising from that we have provided early, accurate information to both the public and the health service.The Chief Medical Officer contacted all doctors on 14 March, 18 March and subsequently on 8 April with detailed information on the symptoms and signs of SARS, and what to do if they encountered a possible case. The Department has also put in place high quality public health surveillance to enable the disease to be tracked closely. The Chief Medical Officer has also issued advice, on 2 April and on 24 April, to people travelling abroad, in line with WHO recommendations. Up to date information is available to the public on the Department's website and on those of the World Health Organisation, the new Health Protection Agency and the DOH(L).Finally, the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety has provided and made arrangements for posters to be displayed at appropriate points in air and sea ports advising incoming passengers, from those areas affected by SARS, about the symptoms of the disease and the importance of seeking medical attention, if they become ill, showing any of the symptoms.