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Breaking the News


Six Dead and over 100 infected with SARS in Toronto, CANADA.


By Mohamed Yousuf BHUGUN.

MSc (UK), FIBMS (UK).RT ( Can)

International Liaison officer ABA


The Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak has already caused six deaths and over 100 infected people in the city of Toronto (CANADA) where the Provincial Ministry of Health has declared an Emergency Health Alert for the city.


Two large hospitals in the eastern part of the city have been closed to avoid the spread of the virus. All the patients, workers and those who visited the hospitals after March 16 have been asked to stay at home for a10-day quarantine. Furthermore, all the family members of these suspected cases have been asked to wear a protective mask during the quarantine period. These are part of the measures taken to avoid the spread of the disease. A total of 70 doctors are under quarantine where 5 have been infected and two are critically ill. Actually, all the Toronto-based hospitals are operating under severe restrictions, keeping doors closed to virtually all visitors except those for critically ill patients.


It all started with one Canadian, Sui-Chi Kwan who brought the virus in the country and later died with the disease. She was one of the seven people who got infected in Hong-Kong at the Metropole Hotel. It is suspected that SARS is spread through droplets of spray through an infected personís cough or sneeze. However, according to Health Officials, the risk of catching the disease among the general public is very low but higher risk are those who recently traveled to Hong-Kong, China, Singapore and Taiwan.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in USA, SARS is caused by a coronavirus which has been isolated in many of the infected persons but other viruses are still under investigation. The coronaviruses are a group of viruses that cause mild to moderate upper-respiratory illness in humans. At present, there is no laboratory test for the detection of the virus but the CDC together with WHO have set up two research tests for the detection of the antibodies produced by the patients against the virus.


The virus has originated from a small province in the Southern part of China called Guangdong. The symptoms for SARS include high fever, dry cough, sore throat and joint pain. The Ministry of Health is advising all people who are showing these signs of symptoms to report immediately to the emergency care department of the nearest hospital.


Canadian Health Officials have started to screen all passengers on international flights from Toronto to avoid further spreading of the disease to other countries. At the same time, all passengers from China, Hong-Kong and Singapore are being examined by Medical Officers at the airport for any signs of SARS. The disease is spreading world-wide especially in Asian countries including China, Hong-Kong, Singapore and Taiwan where more than 1600 people have already been infected.


Although no treatment for SARS has yet been found, most patients seem to recover after some weeks with normal hospital care. Except for about 10 percent who are mainly elderly or have other illness and become critically ill.

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