Sun, May 25, 2003 - Page 1 News List

CDC says fatality rate at about 11%

ESTIMATES The Center for Disease Control has found that those aged 60 to 69 years are at the greatest risk of dying of SARS, while those under 20 have far less to fear

By Melody Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

A military reservist sterilizes Lungshan Temple in Taipei's Wanhua District yesterday. According to the city government more than 300 reservists in Taipei have joined the city's campaign to stamp out SARS.

PHOTO: SEAN CHAO, TAIPEI TIMES

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) said yesterday the fatality rate of SARS ranges from 0 percent to 22.5 percent, depending on the age group, with overall case fatalities estimated at 10.9 percent.

The highest case-fatality ratio, 22.5 percent, occurred in people aged 60 to 69 years. Forty probable SARS cases were reported in the age group and nine of the patients have died.

The CDC said 548 probable cases were reported as of yesterday, 10 higher than the previous day's number. The number of deaths remained at 60. Among the 60 fatalities, 32 were male and 28 female.

Based on data received by the CDC to date, the second and third-highest fatality rates are 18.8 percent in persons aged 80 years or older and 18.2 percent in persons aged 50 to 59 years.

Youth helps

The rates are 13.6 percent in persons aged 70 to 79 years, 11.8 percent in persons 40 to 49-years-old, and less than 10 percent in persons aged 20 to 39. The fatality rate in persons aged 20 or younger is zero, according to the CDC.

Center Director Su Yi-jen (蘇益仁) said case fatality ratios appear higher in older age groups.

"It is because the patients usually have underlying or chronic diseases such as diabetes and cancer," he said.

Su said there had actually been 25 probable cases reported, but 15 cases were ruled out as SARS after testing.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the fatality rate of SARS ranges from 0 percent to 50 percent depending on the age group affected, with an overall estimate of case fatalities between 14 percent and 15 percent.

The WHO report, which was published on May 7, is the organization's latest estimation of the fatality rate of SARS based on an analysis of data from Canada, China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Vietnam.

Different methods

The CDC adopted a different approach from the WHO in estimating the SARS fatality rate. The WHO groups cases in increments of 20 years, whereas the CDC uses a 10-year span.

Using the WHO's methods, estimates of the fatality rate range from 11 percent to 17 percent in Hong Kong, from 13 percent to 15 percent in Singapore, from 15 percent to 19 percent in Canada, and from 5 percent to 13 percent in China, the report said.

Meanwhile, with 10 newly reported probable SARS cases and a zero increase in the number of deaths, Lee Ming-liang (李明亮), co-chairman of the Cabinet's SARS prevention committee, said yesterday the SARS epidemic has stabilized.

With the number of new probable SARS cases well below those of previous days, Lee said the public should feel safe and return to their normal lives. He also expressed confidence in controlling the spread of SARS in southern Taiwan.

Lee said as the Department of Health meted out heavy punishment for hospitals that hide SARS cases, hospitals would rather report uncertified SARS cases than delay reporting suspected cases.

"As a result, we have a situation that hospitals are over-reporting cases," Lee said.

He added that the SARS-prevention committee has ordered special isolation wards that can be installed in helicopters as part of its efforts to transport offshore SARS patients to hospitals.

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