- Independent Journalism From Today's Armenia
 April 11, 2003 

Avoiding SARS: Healthcare workers in Armenia on alert for symptoms of deadly flu

Don't panic over one sneeze says Asoyan.Sneezing might draw special attention these days at Zvartnots Interntional Airport.

Visitors to Armenia showing high temperature or other symptoms of flu may be subject to medical examination or, in worse cases, find themselves in a hospital isolation ward under careful watch of the doctors.

Officials here are taking caution against any contact with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), the Asian-originated illness that has caused more than 100 deaths in Asia, Europe and North America over the past few weeks.

"Thank God, up to now we haven't registered any SARS cases in the republic but we should be careful," says Chief Sanitary Doctor of Armenia, Vladimir Davidyan. "Like in other cases, we should use preventative measures."

And the airport is considered the most likely port of entry for SARS so a meeting was called among health officials to discuss how to monitor potentially afflicted airline passengers.

"Specialists are observing, and in case they suspect someone's condition, they will isolate that person," says Ara Asoyan, director of Nork Isolation Hospital.

Asoyan says there is no need to "reinvent the wheel" in dealing with potential contact with the virus.

A Nork hospital has 45 isolation units."I think this disease like other respiratory viruses must be scared of the sun and will avoid us during this hot season. For now we can only concentrate our abilities and hope that the disease won't penetrate Armenia," says Asoyan. "We are satisfied that the infection hasn't entered Russia as mainly the danger can penetrate Armenia through Russia."

Davidyan assures that wards in Yerevan and throughout the regions are prepared to respond should the need arise.

Asoyan says that the Nork hospital has about 45 wards which could be utilized. Each ward has its separate ventilation system and separate entry.

"We do everything possible that we can in these conditions," says Vladimir Davidyan, "and we shouldn't panic and be nervous because of one sneeze."

But as a precaution the Ministry of Healthcare has alerted specialists within the field of disease prevention to be prepared to act if needed.

"Periodically information will be published and it will keep people informed about developing situations as well as preventing measures," says Davidyan.


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  Photo of the week
  Drawing Criticism
Click on the photo above to enlarge

Drawing Criticism

An exhibition of cartoons has been on display at Moscow Cinema since April 1. It is the first such exhibit in 17 years and not everybody is pleased about whose work was included. Among the aggrieved was this group of young cartoonists whose cartoons were not selected. They rallied outside the cinema Monday, wearing their work.



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