OHSA issues Sars guidelines for
- government stops visas from affected countries
The occupational Health and Safety Authority yesterday,
after being "inundated by calls regarding the risks faced by workers
in various establishments of contracting SARS", has issued a set
of lengthy guidelines for workers that might come into contact with
the increasingly infamous severe acute respiratory syndrome.
But while acting on the concern expressed by callers, the OHSA has also
emphasised that there is no real cause for alarm.
However, the OHSA has underlined the legal duty of employers to carry
out a risk assessment and to inform the employees of its findings. Moreover,
the OHSA has emphasised that employers are obliged to train the workers
as appropriate and to consult them in the measures that need to be taken.
The government, meanwhile, took harsh steps Monday night, when it announced
that visas will no longer be issued for travellers arriving from Sars-hit
countries. The measure will remain in force for an indefinite period
and will be reviewed from time to time.
The decision comes quick on the heels of a notice from the Department
of Health, released earlier on Monday, which recommended the public
to avoid non-essential travel to mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan,
Toronto, Hanoi and Singapore. The Health Department also recommended
that all organisations from both the public and private sectors to avoid
bringing over persons who reside or have recently been to any of the
It adds that, in the event that any such person arrives into Malta,
such organisations are to ensure that such persons are not allowed to
their work place, university, school or conference meeting before 10
days have elapsed from their departure from any of the above affected
In the worlds worst affected region, yesterday Southeast Asian
leaders held an emergency summit to win back international trust after
weeks of cover-up accusations and amid economic worries.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao cautioned the 10-member Association of Southeast
Asian Nations that SARS is going to be a long-term problem for his country.
The disease has sickened more than 5,300 people, mostly in Asia, and
after Singapore reported a new death Tuesday the number killed rose
to at least 355.
"There is a need for us to recognise the fact that the SARS epidemic
is going to be a long-term, a complex and a relapsing epidemic,"
He added that China just needed time to control the illness and acknowledged
that his government did not adequately address it initially.
Yesterday China reported nine more deaths and 200 new infections, bringing
its SARS death toll to 148. The World Health Organisation says SARS
probably has peaked in many places, but it fears the situation is worsening
At the end of the summit, Asian leaders announced wide-ranging steps
to control the spread of SARS. A joint declaration by China, Hong Kong
and 10 Southeast Asian countries said they would take "rigorous
measures" concerning immigration and customs controls, including
pre-departure and arrival screening of travellers and better flight
The countries agreed to set up a regional information network to help
stop the spread of SARS and said their countries would co-operate on
researching the disease.