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SARS Flares in Canada

The news on the SARS front has been generally good of late. The number of active cases in Hong Kong has been decreasing steadily since 18 April, while the number of active cases worldwide has been decreasing since 11 May.

Unfortunately, Canadian health authorities are now investigating up to 25 possible new cases of SARS in Toronto:

Dr. Donald Low, director of microbiology at Mount Sinai Hospital, said dozens of people have been asked to go into quarantine after possible exposure to SARS at the North York General Hospital.

The news comes just after five suspected SARS cases surfaced at the St. John's Rehabilitation Hospital in the city's north end.

Word of a potential new outbreak in Toronto prompted the U.S. Centers for Disease Control to reissue a travel alert Friday.

Low told reporters that SARS may have been spread by an elderly patient who developed pneumonia after an operation for a fractured pelvis at North York General.

A month ago today, I blogged an exchange between Case Ootes, deputy mayor of Toronto, and Denis Aitken, chief of staff for the director general at the World Health Organization. Ootes was complaining about the fact that the WHO's travel advisory was based in part on the export of two cases of SARS from Canada to other countries. Aitken responded:

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.
And one case was apparently all it took for SARS to flare in Canada once again.


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SARS and US/Canada
You commented on on the "origins of flu".

The origin/source is always good to know. For us in this northern hemisphere, can the 49th parallel as determined by nationalist endeavours, ever be effective. West Nile has gone north, SARS will go south, and mad cows will moo when they choose.

Can the cocoon mentality continue in the new global world?

There is no longer anywhere to hide. One case brought SARS into Canada -- just one case. The interconnected nature of the modern global economy makes it virtually impossible to completely seal off any part of the world, no matter what the reason. (Note that even during the worst of the Hong Kong outbreak of SARS, it wasn't that the Hong Kong SAR was isolated -- simply that the WHO advised against non-essential travel there.)

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