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Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome

Volume 406: debated on Friday 23 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the risk of SARS entering the UK via (a) airports and (b) seaports. [111002]

The combination of high levels of global travel and an infection with an incubation period of two to 10 days means that the United Kingdom will inevitably experience some cases of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in United Kingdom. The strategy therefore cannot be total exclusion, rather it is to diagnose early and minimise transmission from these cases within the UK.

We have therefore taken the following measures to reduce the risk of SARS entering the UK by ports of entry:

Issuing advice to travellers through our website which is reviewed daily
distribution of leaflets via airlines to passengers returning from affected countries on signs/symptoms of SARS
advice to airlines reminding them of how to handle any suspected cases and contacts in-flight
following recommendation from the World Health Organisation that screening should be carried out before leaving a SARS affected country.