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Toronto-WHO Smackdown

On NewsHour last night, the deputy mayor of Toronto, Case Ootes, faced off against Denis Aitken, chief of staff for the director general at the World Health Organization, moderated by host Ray Suarez:

Ray Suarez: Denis Aitken, the WHO has added Toronto to a list that includes Chinese provinces and the Chinese capital Beijing. Why?

Denis Aitken: Because Toronto now meets the three criteria that we have for ensuring that we try to keep down the international spread of the disease.

The three criteria are that there's a large number of cases, that secondly there's evidence of transmission now unfortunately outside of the hospital community and the local family of those into the wider community, and finally that we have had a case of an exportation of the disease from Canada.

Ray Suarez: Deputy Mayor Ootes, given those criteria what was Toronto's reaction to the WHO's announcement of a travel warning.

Case Ootes: Well, we were obviously very upset and have launched a protest through our federal minister of health that the action by the World Health Organization is not justified given the situation in Toronto which is completely different from the situation in China...

Ray Suarez: What about the third criterion Mr. Aitken mentioned, that now there is evidence that cases have been exported from Canada to other countries?

Case Ootes: I think he's talking about two cases, and to issue a warning based simply on that, that has the economic impact on the lives of people in this city, seems to be an action that doesn't... isn't merited by the facts...

Denis Aitken: Let me say that one case was enough to start this thing in Canada. It came from Hong Kong. In Hong Kong one case was enough from Guangdong to start the case in Hong Kong, the whole outbreak in Hong Kong.

Score one for the WHO.


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