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Ministry of Health Takes Precautionary Measures Against SARS - 2003-04-14

Davies Dhlakama is the director of health services in the ministry of health. He says a committee on SARS consisting of health experts and airline representatives was formed last week.

Dr. Dhalakama says Zimbabwe does not have any cases of SARS at the moment but he says the recent report in neighboring South Africa, which turned out to be false, was a source of concern.

"We had heard that South Africa had something but that had not been confirmed. That was our fear. We then decided to set up a task force to come up with strategies".

The Harare office of the World Health Organization (WHO) is helping to provide the SARS committee with ideas.

Dr. Naftali Agatha, who is in charge of communicable diseases at WHO in Harare says that there is no intention to cause a scare but simply to inform the public.

He says "We have given guidance regarding the possible outbreak of SARS although that is not meant to scare people but to alert them to recognize SARS symptoms so that they may alert health authorities".

Airline representatives attending meetings on SARS say possible recommendations are still being discussed.

Inonge Imutwana is with the Harare office of Zambian airways says they have received some recommendations for procedures to implemented in dealing with SARS.

SARS symptoms include a high fever, dry cough and difficulties in breathing. It has been reported in 19 countries but is most prominent in China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Vietnam and Canada. So far, there have been 2,960 cases with 119 deaths.