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Free Content Controlling SARS: a review on China’s response compared with other SARS-affected countries

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Summary Objective 

To summarise the major control measures implemented by severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)-affected countries and to compare distinctive features of the Chinese approach to other affected Asian countries and Canada. Method 

Literature review. Results 

The realisation in March 2003 that SARS was spreading led affected countries to introduce measures such as rapid dissemination of information, early case detection and isolation, tracing and quarantining of SARS contacts, traveller screening, raising public awareness of risk and institution of stricter infection control in health care settings. SARS became a notifiable disease in China in mid-April 2003, after which introduction of efficient nationwide control measures led to containment within 2 months. Countries differed in the timeliness of implementing control measures, the mode and extent to which these were enforced and in the resources available to do so. Conclusion 

SARS challenged the political and public health systems of all affected countries. It demanded rapid and decisive action to be taken, yet the comparison shows how difficult this was for an unknown new disease. Guangdong reacted rapidly but this pace was not continued by China for some time, which facilitated national and international spread. Once the Chinese government changed its policy, it developed an impressive control strategy involving the public which culminated in containment. The significance of timely information was perhaps the main lesson which the SARS epidemic taught.
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Keywords: pandemic control measures; response to severe acute respiratory syndrome; severe acute respiratory syndrome; severe acute respiratory syndrome containment; severe acute respiratory syndrome in China

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2009-11-01

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