Canada in tense wait for SARS verdict

Canadian healthcare workers have said they could determine by Sunday night whether the country is in the grip of a new outbreak of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome.

    No visitors are allowed to a
    hospital with SARS patients 

    Canadian health officials are examining four SARS-related deaths that occurred in the same hospital earlier this week.


    Alarmed that the disease could be spreading more than previously thought, authorities 

    have also placed more than 7,000 Canadians in preventive quarantine.


    They are being monitored by healthcare workers looking for symptoms of the flu-like disease that should appear on SARS-infected people when the 10-day incubation period expires this weekend.


    “This is a nervous weekend for us because we have two things going on at once”, said James Young, the public security commissioner at Ontario.


    SARS has already claimed the lives of 30 people in Canada.


    Asia sees progress


    Meanwhile, China reported no SARS-related fatalities on Sunday for the first time since it started releasing a daily report on the outbreak of the disease on 20 April.


    It reported only two new SARS cases, bringing the total number of infections to 5,328 while the toll remained unchanged at 332.


    Chinese minister of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, Li Changjiang, said his country was now safe for foreigners.


    “We have the ability to fight against SARS and control the disease”, Changjiang said, following a meeting with southeast Asian countries on exit-entry and quarantine measures.


    SARS under control in China

    “Today’s meeting is the first international meeting held in Beijing since the SARS outbreak. I think we can say to the world it’s safe to come to Beijing”, the minister said.


    In Taiwan, authorities launched a 10-day nationwide campaign, urging people to check their temperatures in an attempt to stop the waning outbreak of SARS.


    Four new cases were reported on Sunday in the island, raising the total number of infections to 680. The toll stayed at 81.

    Singapore celebrates

    Over the weekend, Singapore celebrated its removal from the list of areas with recent local transmission of SARS.

    Executive Director for Communicable Diseases at the World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr David Heymann, praised Singapore’s handling of its SARS outbreak, describing it as “exemplary”.

    Singapore reported a new case on 11 May, the same day asthe UN health agency initially removed it from the list.

    “This is an inspiring victory that should make all of us optimistic that SARS can be contained everywhere”, he said.


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