Sun, Dec 21, 2003 - Page 2 News List

SARS scientist's contacts cleared

SAFE The 20 people who were seated near Lieutenant Colonel Chan on his flight to Taiwan have finished their checks but his father and wife are still under observation


The Center for Disease Control (CDC) yesterday reported that mandatory personal-health checks imposed on 32 individuals who had been in contact with the medical researcher who caught SARS have been lifted.

CDC Deputy Director Shih Wen-yi (施文儀) said the 10-day health-check period had expired with no signs of fever or other symptoms of SARS in any of the monitored individuals.

The 20 people who were seated near Lieutenant Colonel Chan on a Singapore-to-Taiwan flight finished their health-check period as of midnight Friday.

The obligatory health-check period for the other 12 ended at midnight last night, including the 10 people who were at the clinic that Chan visited before being diagnosed with SARS as well as his two daughters,

The patient's father and wife, the last two people to have contact with Chan before he was admitted to hospital, will be monitored until midnight on Dec 25.

If no other cases of SARS occur before Jan 1, the CDC will shift back to SARS security level zero from level B, indicating that there are no cases of SARS in the world.

Shih also said the center had confirmed that Chan had contracted the virus in his laboratory.

According to Chang Shan-chwen (張上淳), director of the northern region of the Infection Prevention Medical Care Network and head of a CDC committee that investigated Chan's case, initial investigative results found the transmission stemmed from a torn plastic bag that was leaking SARS-contaminated substances.

Chang said two of the 18 environmental samples taken from Chan's laboratory last Thursday tested positive for SARS. The two positive samples had been taken from the handle of an alcohol-spray bottle and a pressure and light switch on a biosafety-equipment cabinet.

In related news, researchers in Canada and Taiwan agreed on Friday to work together in searching for a vaccine against the SARS virus.

An agreement was signed by the Canadian Network for Vaccines and Immunotherapeutics (CANVAC) and the National Health Research Institute.

"Taiwanese scientists have already identified and isolated an element of the virus that is thought to be a key player in any potential SARS vaccine," CANVAC director Michel Klein said in a statement.

The accord will allow researchers in the two countries to exchange blood samples taken from patients at varying stages of illness.

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