23 April 2004
Prevention of Laboratory Associated SARS-CoV Infections
From the Press Release of Ministry of Health, P.R.China issued on April 23, 2004, investigation of suspected SARS cases in China appeared to indicate the source of infection was likely to be a laboratory in China CDC. The occurrence of the current outbreak following laboratory associated infections in Singapore and Taiwan clearly demonstrated the importance of laboratory biosafety practice. We need to ensure all laboratory personnel have received safety training and that all the laboratory work are undertaken at the appropriate containment level. In addition, all laboratories are advised to follow the following guidelines to control the storage of cultures and specimens of SARS CoV:
1. All cell culture stocks of SARS-CoV isolates must be stored and locked inside a Biosafety Level 3 laboratory. A designated person must be appointed to control the access of the virus isolates. An access record must be kept and full inventory of the samples must be maintained and updated accordingly.
2. All specimens collected from known SARS patients must be stored and locked inside a Biosafety Level 2 laboratory. These include all types of clinical and research samples received and tested during the period from 1 November 2002 to 31 July 2003. A designated person must be appointed to control the access of these specimens. An access record must be kept and full inventory of the samples must be maintained and updated accordingly.
3. All other specimens collected and tested during the period from 1 November 2002 to 31 July 2003 must be stored and locked inside a Biosafety Level 2 laboratory. A designated person should be appointed to control the access, keep and update the inventory of these samples.
All laboratories are encouraged to discard properly any unwanted or unneeded clinical and animal specimens suspected or confirmed to be containing SARS-CoV, and/or of stocks of SARS-CoV, that cannot be kept under secure conditions as described.
Attached please find a copy of ‘Precautions to Prevent Transmission of Infection in the Clinical Laboratory’ (Chinese and English version) for your information.
Thank you for your attention.
(Dr W L Lim)
for Director of Health