No cause for alarm on
SARS object contamination says Health and Safety Authority
The Occupational Health and Safety Authority and the Public Health department
has reacted to the news that the SARS virus can live up to 24 hours
on physical objects by saying no form of precautions were needed to
be taken at this stage.
The OHSA and the Public Health department said the measures that had
been taken earlier on are still valid and that there should be no "cause
for panic and alarm".
Earlier this week, collaborating World Health Organisation scientists
reported results of the first scientific studies on the survival time
of the SARS virus in different environmental media.
The results, conducted at labs in Hong Kong, Japan, and Germany confirm
that SARS can survive after drying on plastic surfaces for up to 48
Ongoing studies are testing virus stability on additional surfaces,
with initial results expected by today.
Scientists also tested virus survival times in faeces. Research conducted
at one Hong Kong lab determined that the virus can survive in faeces
for at least two days, and in urine for at least 24 hours.
Another Hong Kong lab found that virus in diarrhoea faeces could survive
for four days, The dose of virus needed to cause infection remains unknown
and further studies are being conducted.
WHO said the results have underlined the importance of frequent handwashing,
proper cleaning, and good disinfection control in hospitals managing
Spread by infected droplets remains the most important mode of transmission.
SARS is thought to spread in the majority of cases through close person-to-person
exposure to infected droplets expelled during coughing or sneezing.
Faeces outbreaks in Hong Kong last March raised the possibility of an
environmental source of infection where sewage might have played a role.
As of yesterday, a cumulative total of 6,583 probable SARS cases with
461 deaths have been reported from 27 countries.