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Berkeley publishes draft SARS response plan

– The UC Berkeley SARS task force has created a prevention and response plan to help the campus - and other institutions - cope with the advent of public health threats like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome.

The plan, published in draft form on the Web, outlines the steps the campus would follow in the event of another SARS outbreak, either overseas or closer to home. It details protocols applicable to students, faculty, staff and visitors, both on campus and in the surrounding community. It is intended to be helpful as a guide in coping with outbreaks of other infectious diseases that may arise in the future.

UC Berkeley has been monitoring the SARS situation since the disease erupted in Asia in the spring of 2003. Chancellor Robert M. Berdahl created the SARS task force in April to coordinate the campus's response to the disease. The SARS Public Health Response Working Group, a subcommittee of the task force, spent the summer drafting the response plan, which is based on guidelines and recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.

Although SARS appears to be contained for now, UC Berkeley officials remain committed to being prepared should it return. As part of that effort, information on the status of the SARS outbreak, the campus's response and reminders of where to go for information are being made available to students and others as they return to Berkeley for the fall semester.

The draft SARS Prevention and Response Plan is another step in that planning process. Campus officials opted to share the plan publicly so that it could be improved through the comments of reviewers, and so that other educational institutions and organizations might benefit from UC Berkeley's experiences.

Public comment on the draft plan is invited. Comments should be sent to Tomás Aragón, director of the UC Berkeley Center for Infectious Disease Preparedness, at aragon@ucbcidp.org.

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