Sat, Nov 01, 2003 - Page 2 News List

CDC establishes new classification system for SARS

By Joy Su  /  STAFF REPORTER

In preparation for a possible resurgence of SARS, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) yesterday announced a new virus classification system.

According to CDC Deputy Director-General Shih Wen-yi (施文儀), there are four different levels of classification: 0, A, B and C.

Level 0 indicates that there are no reports of SARS cases anywhere in the world. Level A begins when other countries report an outbreak of SARS. The Department of Health (DOH) would be in charge of making necessary arrangements during a level A situation.

Level B would begin with the identification of the first domestic case of SARS, during which the Executive Yuan would replace the DOH in formulating and mobilizing disease control policies. Level C would indicate multiple cases of SARS have been reported.

"Temperature readings will be required upon entering any building during an A-level situation. The CDC will issue warnings against large indoor events during level B and prohibit them during level C. We will probably also require health-care workers and sick patients to wear surgical masks to prevent the spread of the virus during levels B and C," Shih said.

In addition, CDC Deputy Director-General Chou Jih-haw (周志浩) said that the center held a closed-door panel discussion yesterday with health-care leaders from 10 countries, including Hong Kong, Singapore, the US, Canada and Japan.

Chou indicated that two drugs recently reported to be effective in fighting SARS -- Promazine and Niclosamide -- were among the subjects discussed by the panel.

"Preliminary tests have shown that the drugs are almost 100 percent effective in inhibiting the replication of the SARS virus," Chou said.

Chou said that since both drugs have been approved for use in treating other medical conditions, the problem now is how and in what dosage they should be used in treating SARS.

"The drugs need to undergo bedside diagnostic tests before they can be approved for SARS treatment," Chou said. "However, the problem with experimentation on SARS patients is that you do not know if you will have enough patients to confirm initial findings."

Chou said participants at the panel discussion had agreed to share SARS information and establish a channel for efficient communication, although the details of such a channel would have to be worked out.

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