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SARS outbreak occurs in Singapore Mar 2003

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) is a type of atypical pneumonia caused by a coronavirus now known as the SARS-associated coronavirus (SARS-CoV) that is transmitted through direct contact with the respiratory secretions or body fluids of an infected person.[1] The virus was brought into Singapore in late February 2003 by three Singaporean women who contracted the highly infectious disease while holidaying in Hong Kong.[2] One of them, Esther Mok, was identified as the first “index case” as 22 other close contacts caught the virus from her, sparking the outbreak in Singapore.[3]

As more cases surfaced, a number of measures were introduced to deal with the national crisis. On 22 March, Tan Tock Seng Hospital and the Communicable Disease Centre became the designated facilities for the isolation and treatment of SARS cases.[4] As a precaution, the Ministry of Health invoked the Infectious Diseases Act on 24 March to impose home quarantine orders on persons who had been in contact with SARS patients.[5] In addition, temperature checks were conducted at all immigration checkpoints as well as schools, government offices and many workplaces across the island.[6]

The SARS outbreak was successfully contained and Singapore was declared free of SARS by the World Health Organization on 30 May 2003.[7] Singapore had a total of 238 reported cases of SARS, including 33 deaths.[8] Globally, SARS infected 8,096 people and resulted in 774 deaths, with China, Hong Kong and Taiwan being the three worst-hit areas.[9]

1. Q&A. (2003, March 18). The Straits Times, p. 4; Sars spreads mainly through contact, droplets: MOH. (2003, May 6). Today, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2012, July 2). Frequently asked questions about SARS. Retrieved from CDC website: http://www.cdc.gov/sars/about/faq.html
2. Salma Khalik & Lee, H. C. (2003, March 18). Shopping trip for 3 turned horribly wrong. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. 91 cases traced to just one woman here. (2003, April 3). The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Ng, W. C. (2004) The silent war: 1 March – 31 May 2003 (pp. 4–5). Singapore: Tan Tock Seng Hospital. Call no.: English q616.240095957 NG.
4. Wee, L.-A. (2003, March 23). Tan Tock Seng: Sorry, no more admissions. The Straits Times, p. 23. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. Stay home or face $5,000 fine. (2003, March 5). The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. Chia, S.-A. (2003, April 25). Front-line defence: Fever checks. The Straits Times, p. 1; Lee, R., & Vijayan, K. C. (2003, April 24). Fever screening for all flying out of Changi. The Straits Times, p. 1; Boo, K. (2003, April 30). Fever checks and declarations at all sea ports. The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. Chang, A.-L. (2003, May 31). Singapore is off WHO's Sars list. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. Health Promotion Board. (2012, April 3). Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). In Infectious diseases. Retrieved December 26, 2013, from HPB website: http://www.hpb.gov.sg/HOPPortal/article?id=578&orginalId=2992
9. Goh, S. N. (2003, June 6). Epidemic past its peak: WHO. The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; World Health Organization. (2004). Summary of probable SARS cases with onset of illness from 1 November 2002 to 31 July 2003. Retrieved December 26, 2013, from WHO website: http://www.who.int/csr/sars/country/table2004_04_21/en/print.html


The information in this article is valid as at 2014 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

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