SARS in Toronto

Apr 15th, 2003, 07:55 PM
  #1  
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SARS in Toronto

We're Australians flying to Canada for holidays in late May. One of our stopovers is Toronto. Just how bad is the SARS virus in Toronto? Should we change our flights and fly into Montreal or Quebec instead? Or postpone our holiday completely? I've read the official websites both from the Australian and Canadian governments but would like some feedback from people in the area.
marg is offline  
Apr 15th, 2003, 09:06 PM
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I'm not sure what the odds would be of contacting SARS in Toronto but consider this: There are almost 5 Million people in the city and 12 million within a 250 K radius yet there are only a couple of hundred, (all traceable to Asia), who have contacted the disease and about 6% of those, (almost exclusively aged or with pre-existing conditions), have died. Ontario is doing everything it can to get it under control but my gut feeling is that even an extended stay in Toronto would not be hazerdous to any significant degree.

I personally would not hesitate to visit TO and in fact am making a connection there from Vancouver to Spain in ten days.
GaryA is offline  
Apr 16th, 2003, 05:27 AM
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BAK
 
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I live in the heart of downtown, and have no worries at all.

As a percentage of the population, the nubmbers are very,very small, and the problems are concentrated in some small geographic areas -- a hospital or a school or a funeral home, for instance --- and medical centers, where sick people might go, are taking special precautions.

Local politicians have taken to eating in Chinese restaurants to show everything is safe.

You should not worry at all; most of us here do not worry, either.

BAK
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Apr 16th, 2003, 08:21 AM
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I also live right in the city and take public transit (streetcar) to work every day. I'm not worried, although I am careful about washing my hands, etc. That's just common sense.

I have an appointment for some medical tests next week at one of the hospitals - I'm not sure if the hospital will re-schedule, but if they don't, I'll keep my appointment.

Personally, I would be more worried about being in a plane for long periods of time than being in Toronto. I'm planning a trip to Australia next February and already dreading the long flight! (We had a bad experience going to Australia back in 1996 with flight delays, re-routing, etc. - hopefully this one will be better.)

SusanInToronto is offline  
Apr 16th, 2003, 09:23 PM
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I am a physician in Canada and I agree with the above posts. SARA has been WAY overstated, a lot of it is the media making news by scaremongering. Many more people contract and die of Tuberculosis daily in Canada and around the world. The quarantine procedures are precautions from a medical community that is faced with a new unknown disease that we would very much like to "nip in the bud" before it does become a global pandemic; but today we are FAR from that. Use common sense precautions, and dont change your travel plans. You are far more likely to be hit by a truck than contracting SARS- enjoy your trip.
jimmoi is offline  
Apr 16th, 2003, 09:37 PM
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Newspapers have to sell stories to make a living.

Lately the headlines have been:

Toronto.

Somebody who looks like they may be from China is on your airplane.

Somebody who looks like they may be Arabic is on your airplane wearing sneakers.

What is next?

Rabid Australians bite copilot in the neck..........are they vampires?
icithecat is offline  
Apr 16th, 2003, 11:18 PM
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Hello Marg,

We'd love to have you in montreal.
pattysuericia is offline  
Apr 17th, 2003, 07:44 PM
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Thanks to all the kind people who answered my question. The Australian government are currently advising cancellation of non-essential visits to Toronto so you can see why I was worried.
To Susanintoronto - I know what you mean about the flight. My husband is dreading the long long flight (and I am dreading hearing his complaints!).
Pattysuericia - yes, we are visiting Montreal too.
marg is offline  
Apr 17th, 2003, 08:10 PM
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Hello Marg,

Have you booked accommodation in Montreal yet? By the way, you can go on the website of The Globe & Mail and the Montreal Gazette for both cities
pattysuericia is offline  
Apr 18th, 2003, 04:46 AM
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I just heard a radio report this morning that the traditional communion services of both the Catholic and Anglican churches has been suspended for Easter in Toronto. No sharing of the bread and wine as usual. Catholic Cardinal has also directed that confession may not be held in closed booth either. Seems there is worry that SARS could be spread from the common wine chalice etc.
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Apr 19th, 2003, 12:53 PM
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Ironically, I am a Canadian visiting Australia in Oct, and was worried about SARS. As a Torontonian, I can safely say that SARS has not affected my daily routine. If you use common sense, you won't contract the disease in Canada.

If your plane connects through the Orient, try Tokyo. Not only do you avoid SARS infected areas, but you can get a good price from Japan Airlines now-a-days.
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Apr 19th, 2003, 07:10 PM
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I do not agree with the previous posters who seem to take a cavalier attitude to Sars in Toronto. It is the number two hot spot in the world for Sars and I would not travel to Toronto if I did not have to until the health officials provide a green light. Tonights news in Toronto announced another Hospital is closed off!!TAKE CARE!
duke6979 is offline  
Apr 20th, 2003, 04:15 AM
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I don't think anybody is taking a "cavalier attitude" to SARS. I think we're just using common sense. I'm a health care professional and my hospital has been affected by the extreme precautions that are being taken, even though I work in a psychiatric outpatient clinic and our patients are no more at risk than the general public. We have had no cases at our hospital and the precautions seem a bit over-the-top at times, but they're being strictly enforced. My two daughters who live in the USA have both come home this weekend for a visit; one of them is pregnant. If I felt they were at risk I would never have allowed them to come. If you don't come face-to-face with infected people you aren't going to catch the disease, and that's just how it is. If it were easily transmitted, as several people have pointed out, the city would have been leveled by it at this point. Of course it's a very serious disease but the danger to the general public is minimal and if you use sensible caution - handwashing, for one thing - there is no reason to avoid coming here.
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Apr 20th, 2003, 05:41 AM
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Suit yourself! If you come after May read up on the next problem in Canada which is West Nile virus transmitted by mosquitos . Hard to avoid Mossies if you vacation in rural areas!
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Apr 20th, 2003, 06:01 AM
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If it is not easily transmitted then why are well protected Health Care workers amongst the most highly affected group and why are they all wearing N95 masks?
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Apr 20th, 2003, 08:12 AM
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Duke6979:
Think about what you just said. OF COURSE health care workers who COME INTO direct contact with SARS patients are MUCH more at risk than the average person. Most of the health care workers who contracted SARS came into DIRECT contact WELL before stringent precautions were put into place. MANY other health care workers are in direct contact with SARS patients but due to the stringent precautions being taken they are NOT contracting SARS. Unfortunately the latest hospital closing problem was caused by medical staff not being aware that a patient was a SARS risk and to top it off this patient turned out to be a "super spreader" - highly contagious. Most SARS patients are not "super speaders". So far only 4 "super spreaders" have been identified in Toronto.
I live in Toronto, take public transit and go about my life pretty normally. The only extra precaution I am taking is frequent proper hand washing. Unless a visitor to Toronto plans a scenic tour of Toronto hospitals (not possible anyway) or attending funerals of people who may have died of SARS and giving their relatives a big hug, the likelyhood of their having any contact with SARS is pretty remote. All things are possible and this is not a disease to be trifled with but really being in a fatal car accident is MUCH more likely.
JMM is offline  
Apr 20th, 2003, 08:33 AM
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This might put a bit more perspective into the picture: one of the senior microbiologists at Mount Sinai Hospital here in Toronto was helping out at Scarborough Grace, where SARS first began to spread, at the very beginning of the epidemic before anybody realized what was happening. She was helping the staff there develop isolation and containment procedures just before they realized that they had a potentially terrible situation on their hands. She realized - too late - that she had been exposed to the disease because of contact with a patient who went on to develop SARS. She voluntarily went into isolation at home; she has a husband and kids. She subsequently did develop the illness and has now recovered. However, because she was appropriately careful, her family did not become ill, although they quarantined themselves until the danger was over. My point is that the illness did NOT spread to her family despite the fact that they all live in the same household. It doesn't just go zipping through the population like wildfire; it CAN be contained. Having said that, I think Public Health should probably have been more diligent about enforcing isolation and quarantine, but it looks as if that's happening now. And I maintain that there is no danger to the general public.
Meesthare is offline  
Apr 20th, 2003, 10:56 AM
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On the radio just now a warning that last week a person with SARS was on a GO train and Go is trying to identify the train/car etc to alert other passengers!!
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Apr 20th, 2003, 11:19 AM
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As an antidote to Duke's hysteria.
Just checked up on latest SARS outbreak at Sunnybrooke hospital. It seems that the spread to hospital stuff occured during a very difficult intubation procedure on a 'super spreader' when someone's visor slipped. If what Duke says about the GO train is true unless the passengers were attempting to intubate the person with SARS while commuting, it is unlikely this will cause more spread. Although if I were on that GO train in that car I would voluntarily quarantine myself. Better to be cautious and considerate of public safety rather than hysterical.
As my doctor says - just keep washing those hands - it really does help.
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Apr 20th, 2003, 08:22 PM
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Go officials Have now identified the train and are trying to locate the passengers who sat with the nurse who had SARS!
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