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SARS to become a notifiable disease

SARS to become a notifiable disease

Health Minister Annette King says an Order-in-Council, adding Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) to New Zealand's schedule of notifiable diseases was signed by the Executive Council today, and the order should be gazetted tomorrow.

“While no cases of SARS have yet been reported in New Zealand, it is prudent to be as prepared as we possibly can, “ Ms King said.

The World Health Organisation has so far reported 1550 cases worldwide, with more than 54 deaths to March 29.

"The greatest benefit from adding SARS to the schedule of notifiable diseases is that it gives health authorities power to detain and isolate someone suspected of having the syndrome. It also means that health authorities would also have the power to isolate others in contact with the infected person.

"We expect that if a New Zealander or a visitor to New Zealand was found to have the disease, they would willingly be quarantined to prevent the possibility of further spread, but it is a good back-up to provide health authorities with the power of detainment.

"I am confident that the responses to SARS by the Ministry of Health, District Health Boards and health professionals in New Zealand has been appropriate so far. New Zealand is as prepared as is possible for the disease. Making SARS a notifiable disease gives the health sector another tool," Ms King said.

Ms King urged New Zealanders planning to travel to affected countries to continue monitoring the Ministry of Health's 0800 0800 80 number; or to visit http://

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