Lancaster University

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Severe acute respiratory syndrome

04/11/2003 11:56:02



The media has given considerable coverage to the incidents of SARS and people are naturally concerned about any potential risks. The University authorities have again been in discussion with the Health Protection Agency for Lancashire and Cumbria in order to seek their most up to-date advice about this issue.

* Measures are in place at ports of departure from affected area, and during flights, to screen out possible cases

*At the time of writing the risk of contracting SARS in the UK is extremely small. There have been only six probably cases identified, all of these cases were acquired abroad, all have made a full recovery.

*There have been no cases of person to person transmission in the UK

* Cases of of person to person infection in the countries affected by this disease occurred amongst health care workers and close family members who have been actively taking care of someone who was already ill.

*The Health Protection Agency advise that accommodation conditions on campus and in Lancaster do not pose any additional risk that the virus can spread.

*Current medical knowledge indicates that a person is not infectious unless they are actually ill and exhibiting the symptoms.

*Incubations period is normally 3-6 days

*The Health Protection Agency does not recommend quarantine.


SARS is the term being used to describe a serious respiratory illness which has recently been reported in parts of east and south east Asia, and in Toronto, Canada.

Affected areas -

The following areas have been highlighted as affected areas; Singapore; Hong

Kong; Guangdong province of China; Chanxi and Beijing, China; Taiwan; Hanoi,

Vietnam and Toronto, Canada


*A person who has history of close contact, up to 10 days of becoming unwell, with a person who has been diagnosed with SARS. Close contact means having cared for, having lived closely with, or having had direct contact with respiratory secretions and body fluids of a person with SARS

*A history of travel to areas reporting cases of SARS


* High fever (>38C

* Dry cough

*breathing difficulties


Students and staff who are well should be allowed to continue their studies or work as normal. They pose a negligible risk to others.

Students and staff should not return to studies or work if they have any of the symptoms of SARS, or develop them within ten days of their return. There is no need for these students or staff to be quarantined unless SARS is suspected by a GP.

What to do if you feel ill:

If you live on campus: and feel ill with flu-like symptoms in the first 10 days after returning from one of the named areas you should telephone Bailrigg Health Centre (or your own doctor if you are registered elsewhere locally) to request a visit in your room, explaining your concerns and your recent travel movements. During normal practice hours ring Lancaster 33625 or ext: 94130 if you are calling from campus.

You must avoid contact with others until you have spoken with the doctor.

If you feel ill during the night, or at weekend then please call the Nurse Unit on ext: 94737 if you are on campus, requesting a visit.

Students living off campus: should contact their regular GP. You must avoid contact with others until you have spoken with the doctor.

What will happen in the event of someone contracting SARS?

Anyone identified as having, or suspected of having, the SARS infection after consultation with the doctor will be admitted to hospital for assessment and treatment. If after assessment it is decided that it is likely that a student or member of staff is suffering from SARS then the University and the Health Protection Agency will follow guidelines already established and proven in dealing with outbreaks of other infectious diseases. This will include giving detailed timely information to all members of staff and students.

Advice to other students and staff:

The advice is that the risk is very small. As already mentioned the current medical evidence is that a person is not infectious until they are ill, in which case they are likely to have already contacted the medical services. We should not forget that anyone returning from affected countries will be concerned about their own health and will be very unlikely to take risks if they feel ill.

There is no need to avoid contact with other students who have returned from affected areas, or to wear a facemask.

travelling abroad?

Staff and students considering travelling abroad are recommended to follow the advice given on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website, and should be particularly aware that if they do decide to travel against advice it is likely to affect their travel insurance:

It is University policy that staff do not travel against the recommendations of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Staff are advised to monitor web sites for the latest information.

The UK Health Authority advice on SARS

Travel Advice from Department of Health Health Protection Agency:

Foreign and Commonwealth Travel Advice:

The Association of University Teachers ( AUT)

The University will issue information about the evidence of suspected or actual cases if they arise and will update staff and students as events unfold. In the meanwhile all activities will continue as normal.

Produced in conjunction with the Health Protection Agency

24 April 2003