Sunlight can kill SARS virus: expert

DUBAI- Ultra-violet light, or sunlight, can kill the corona virus that causes Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The virus can survive in dry air or on dry surfaces for up to three hours. In these conditions the virus crystallises and can float in the air like dust. It is suspected the virus can be transmitted to humans in this manner.

By Hani M. Bathish

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Published: Tue 6 May 2003, 1:15 PM

Last updated: Wed 1 Apr 2015, 10:59 PM

Such basic facts about the SARS virus were discussed at an eye-opening lecture held yesterday at Al Zahra Hospital in Sharjah. Professor Dr Mohammed Haq Nawaz, a consultant physician at the hospital, delivered the lecture.

Recent data on the resistance of the SARS corona virus against environmental factors and disinfectants compiled by members of the World Health Organisation laboratory network, showed that the virus is killed in 56 degrees Celsius a rate of 10,000 units per 15 minutes, a quick reduction.

Prof. Nawaz explained how to define suspected and probable SARS cases and how medical staff can deal with such cases. He also said that it was necessary to don gown, gloves, goggles and mask while coming close to SARS patients.

"The incubation period of the virus is three to 10 days and according to current data, infected people do not pass on the virus during the incubation period. An infected person becomes infectious only when the first symptoms appear, such as coughing and sneezing, which spread droplets containing virus particles.

"So far, in all cases reported, patients have experienced non-productive cough and high fever, over 38 degrees Celsius; 80 per cent of them experienced difficulty in breathing similar to asthma, 70 per cent experienced malaise, 50 per cent experienced diarrhoea, 30 per cent chest pain on breathing, sore throat and head ache," Prof. Nawaz said.

He further explained how people who came into contact with suspected or probable SARS cases might be at greater risk of developing the disease. Information to date suggests that risky exposures include having cared for, lived with, or direct contact with the respiratory secretions, body fluids or excretions of suspected or probable SARS patients.

Prof. Nawaz remarked that the quick mutation of the virus may actually be decreasing its virulence, pointing to a drop in the global incidence of SARS cases reported as of May 1.

"There are no recorded instances where the disease was transmitted via casual contact or travelling in public transport. Wearing masks in public places and even in the work place is therefore not currently advised by the World Health Organisation. "Those who have travelled in the last 10 days to a known SARS infected areas, or have had close contact with suspected SARS cases, should be vigilant over developing symptoms. If symptoms appear, do not go to work, school or other public areas," Prof. Nawaz said.

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