Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)
Severe acute respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, is a viral respiratory illness caused by a coronavirus. SARS was first reported in Asia in Febuary 2003 and over the next few months, the illness spread to more than 2 dozen countries in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia before the SARS global outbreak was contained. Globally, SARS caused 9,069 cases of disease and 775 deaths.
As of April 30 2003, there had already been a total of 201 probable cases of SARS and 722 suspect cases have been reported.
In general, SARS begins with high fever (temperature greater than 38 degree celsius. Other symptoms may include headache, an overall feeling of discomfort, and body aches. Some people also have mild respiratory symptoms at the outset. About 10 - 20% of patients have diarrhea. After 2 to 7 days, patients may also develop dry cough which further develops to pneumonia.
1.2 How SARS spreads
The main way that SARS seems to spread is by close person-to-person contact. It was though that SARS is transmitted most easily through repiratory droplets when a person sneezes or cough. The virus also can be spread when a person touch an object that is contaminated with repiratory droplets and proceeds to touch his nose, eyes, or mouth. However, it is not known to be air-borne and there should be close contact with infected victims to be infected.
2. ICT's role in this epidemic
Infrared Fever Screening System, or IFSS, is a system designed by the Defence Science Technology Agency (DSTA) and ST electronics and works like a thermal imaging sensor. It is used to screen the body surface temperature of people and thus screen out suspected infected victims down with fever instead of using thermometers. This is so, to cut the number of paramedics needed for a screening, effectively improving efficiency in detecting SARS for quick quarantined measures.
The device feeds data into a computer, and feverish foreheads show up as red spots, and cool ones as blue on sihouetted images on a computer screen.
2.2.1 ePIC camera
On March 24, the Ministry of Health invoked the Infectious Diseases Act to quarantined all contacts who have been exposed to SARS patients. This legislation allows mandatory home quarantine for 10 days, which is enforced by CISCO, which installs an electronic picture (ePIC) camera at the home of each contact.
The ePIC camera is an Australia manufactured stand-alone camera requiring only a phone line and power outlet to operate. About 500 cameras were deployed for the SARS incident. According to reports, they were off for most of the time, with quarantined individuals required to present themselves in front of them only after recieving a telephone call from government officials.
DegC-trek is temperature monitoring system developed by Fujitsu implemented in some schools, and companies. It is built on Fujitsu's Mobile Application Service Provider (ASP) operation platform, and automate temperature recording, which at the end of the day, statistical report can be generated, providing instant checking of specific temperature records, and quick retrieval of historical temperature records.
It works through an SMS system, where after taking a temperature reading, each individual will send an SMS message containing the temperature reading to a pre-designated phone number. It will then be picked up and recorded by the system and will be processed to produce a statistical report or graphical display for easy viewing and retrieval.
2.3 Contact with victims
At the hospitals, only one visitor is permitted and only after wearing a mask and passing a temperature check; all other visitors used video conferencing system to speak to their relatives in the patients' wards.