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Virus: Transmission

Transmission of the virus is predominantly spread by droplets or direct or indirect contact, which was proven as close contacts of patients such as household members, healthcare workers, or other patients were infected.

However in the Amoy Gardens outbreak, the transmission seemed to be spread by the sewage system. Yet, airborne transmission from the Metropole Hotel in Hong Kong cannot be ruled out.

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The term 'superspreading' has been used to describe situations in which a single individual has directly infected a large number of other people. In the Singapore epidemic, of the first 201 probable cases reported, 103 were infected by just 5 source cases.

About the term 'superspreaders'

The word 'superspreaders' is now rarely used as it's offensive. There has been a public outcry over this word because it discriminates the people who were unwillingly infected, but spread the virus to other people. Hence, use of the term should be discouraged.

Unsuspected patients

Some SARS cases are unrecognized because the patients have concurrently a fever and/or pneumonia, which have similar symptoms to SARS. Patients who are immuno-compromised or have chronic conditions might not display symptoms and therefore delay the diagnosis of SARS. In addition, some patients fear of being isolated from society and thus do not reveal all the facts.

High-risk activities

SARS is highly contagious, especially amongst healthcare workers in Hanoi, Vietnam and Hong Kong. They must face close contact with patients and can contract the virus by respiratory secretions.

Transmission during quarantine

When patients are diagnosed with SARS, they may or may not be infected with SARS. Yet once they are quarantined with other infected patients, they have a high risk of contracting the virus. This illustrates the fundamental principles of no 'co-horting' suspecting cases, as it can cause more SARS patients.

Transmission after recovery

Although there have so far been no reports of transmission after leaving the hospital, patients are recommended to remain isolated in their homes for an additional 14 days. The length of time depends upon whether patients continue to extract the virus from the respiratory tract or from other feces after symptoms have stopped.


  • SARS Quiz
    In this quiz you will find questions based on the information available in Basic Guide, Virus and Prevention.

  • Crossword puzzle 2: Virus
    Online crossword puzzle based on Virus.

  • SARS Quest - Averting An Outbreak
    In this short Flash game, you will be taking on the role of the Health Minister of the imaginary country of Asitwon. Your aim is to use all necessary means to prevent a SARS outbreak in the country.


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