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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, April 04, 2003
Contact: HHS Press Office
STATEMENT BY TOMMY G. THOMPSON
Secretary of Health and Human Services
Regarding Executive Order on Quarantinable Diseases
The President today signed an executive order adding SARS to the list of quarantinable communicable diseases under the Public Health Service Act. The president signed the order after he received a detailed briefing on SARS from myself, Dr. Julie Gerberding of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
By amending the list, we are simply taking the pragmatic step of readying all options as we continue to tackle this disease. This authority would only be used if someone posed a threat to public health and refused to cooperate with a voluntary request. We're working to be prepared for any eventuality.
The Department of Health and Human Services, particularly the scientists at the CDC, remains pro-active in addressing SARS. We continue to monitor those coming into the United States from Asia, isolating those who are showing symptoms of SARS and providing them with medical care, informing those who may have been exposed to SARS what to do if they get symptoms, and personally following up with those who may have been exposed.
Symptoms include coughing, fever and shortness of breath. Individuals with these symptoms who have recently returned from travel to mainland China, Hong Kong, Vietnam or Singapore should see a health care provider and inform them of their travel history. Clinicians should continue to report such cases to their state health department or the CDC.
The Executive Order can be viewed at: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/sars/executiveorder040403.htm.
Note: All HHS press releases, fact sheets and other press materials are available at http://www.hhs.gov/news.
Last Revised: April 10, 2003