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Going to Paris via Toronto. Any opinions?

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Going to Paris via Toronto. Any opinions?

Old Apr 24th, 2003, 07:21 AM
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Going to Paris via Toronto. Any opinions?

We're going to Paris with a stop in Toronto. Any opinions on whether the SARS epidemic would warrant the cancellation of our trip? We're locked in to the stop in Toronto but I could cancel the whole trip because I bought the cancellation waiver insurance. We'd obviously would prefer to go as planned.What would you do?
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Old Apr 24th, 2003, 07:34 AM
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Within Canada (where I am now), the travel advisory for Toronto is limited to advice to stay away from hospital and other clinical settings. You have not defined the length of your stop, but it seems unlikely it would involve that sort of sightseeing!

Seriously, my daughter is currently planning a week-long trip from her school in Halifax (Nova Scotia) to Toronto to see friends. She asked our advice (!) and we said "go for it", just avoid hospitals, funeral homes and clinics. All current Toronto cases can be traced directly to one of those settings when trips to China or Hong Kong were not at the source.
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Old Apr 24th, 2003, 07:43 AM
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My first response was to advise you to hold your breath in the airport, but realizing that wouldn't really be helpful, here is my (decidedly unmedical) opinon: I would think your chances of picking up this virus on a stop or layover in Toronto would be infintessimal. I'd not give it another thought.
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Old Apr 24th, 2003, 07:51 AM
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Friends of ours were faced with the same decision. If you are booked on Air Canada, you may have another option. AC would not refund the tickets, but did permit them to reschedule. For the trip now, they chose to rebook on another airline, avoiding Toronto altogether. They used the refunded money to plan a trip for later in the year.
It doesn't much matter what anyone else's opinion may be...people have to decide what is best for them. Our friends' final decision was that their peace of mind was worth the minimal money they lost.
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Old Apr 24th, 2003, 08:08 AM
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Here's a link to an article that puts the risk of being infected with SARS into perspective.

http://www.nationalpost.com/home/sto...9-95EBE60F1A28
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Old Apr 24th, 2003, 08:23 AM
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My parents just went through Toronto airport. I even heard this morning where the Ontario Health Minister is so ticked at the WHO for even listing Toronto, he's trying to get Toronto removed asap.

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Old Apr 24th, 2003, 08:33 AM
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The article mentioned above should calm your fears
The odds are much greater of being in a traffic accident, or of being mugged, or even of dying of the 'flu than they are of contracting or dying of SARS, in Toronto or elsewhere

That's no comfort to those who have gotten it, but, like terrorism fears, it just puts the probabilities in perspective
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Old Apr 24th, 2003, 09:41 AM
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I live and work in Toronto, and just wanted to comment that for the vast majority of people in the city this virus has had no impact in terms of practicalities of everyday life - I think that international coverage has blown things out of proportion.

Obviously you have to do what you feel comfortable with, but I think that the chances of you catching SARS while at the airport or even walking around downtown are unbelievably small and there is no reason to cancel or reroute your trip.

The National Post article referenced is very good for perspective. It is also worth knowing that we have just had representatives from the CDC visiting Toronto and assessing the state of affairs and they have stated that they do NOT feel it necessary to issue a travel advisory.

I have noticed that what a lot of the news reports do not mention is that out of the approx 270 (267?) probable/suspected cases diagnosed over 100 have been treated (cured) and released already, and that most of the 16 fatalities had weakened immune systems (elderly, or pre-existing medical conditions). Any new cases are predominantly in health care workers associated with treatment of the existing cases.

As an added reassurance for you, you should know that anyone who suspects that they have been in contact with the virus or who has been to a location where a suspected case has been (e.g. a particular hospital) is instructed to register with Public Health and self-impose a 10 day "voluntary" quarantine (which will be imposed on you if you dont obey!). Therefore your chances of being anywhere near an infected person are even lower than the straight "cases per population" numbers suggest.

I hope that this information helps you with your decision and that you have a great trip whenever you go!
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Old Apr 24th, 2003, 09:52 AM
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Just wanted to jump back in and say that I am so relieved at the sanity of Fodorites revealed in this thread.

I nearly didn't respond (though I have been paying close attention to the SARS situation) for fear that by encouraging folks including my own child to go to TO regardless of SARS, I might be "flamed" as a reckless and unfit world citizen. Nice to know we can count on this forum to keep a sense of proportion.
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Old Apr 24th, 2003, 10:26 AM
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NKH says it very well . . .

I live less than 1 mile from Grace Hosp (SARS explosion point) & for us & millions of Toronto's residents it's business as usual.

Casual visitors should have no fear - the hospitals affected have been closed until they clear quarantine. Other healthcare facilities are cautiosly open & available for emergency care.

And no, I don't wear a mask when I go out.
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Old Apr 24th, 2003, 11:22 AM
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While that "National Post" article is filled with the usual "odds of dying" statistics it doesn't begin to address the real risk of getting SARS. And that risk, as with any contagious pathogen, depends on knowing ONE thing: "How does the pathogen move?" The answer, thus far, seems to be heavily weighted toward what is commonly referred to as "droplet transmission," This means that if one comes into close or direct contact with respiratory-produced droplets/secretions from someone who has the condition, then your chances of coming down with SARS are much greater. How does this usually happen? Generally, by being within two to three feet of someone (in this case with SARS)who is coughing or sneezing; performing some medical procedures on such an individual such as suctioning or mouth-to-mouth resuscitation; direct contact with their respiratory secretions (I would refrain from french kissing them right now). If such a situation occurs that "National Post" statistical extravaganza won't mean much.

At this point there seems to be much less weight given to the notion that SARS' spread may also be via the so-called "airborne route" (diseases such as TB, Varicella [Chicken Pox}, Measles, etc. are commonly transmitted this way. If SARS were truly an airborne pathogen there would be much greater cause for concern.

So, just passing through the airport in a city where there have been SARS cases probably doesn't pose much of a risk unless one of those "cases" sneezes or coughs all over you..coughing 10 feet away probably wouldn't affect you much.
It is understandable why a lot of folks in that city are "concerned" that the place is being, by some, labeled as a threat to public health.

Accuracy in the media is always appreciated and a little scientifically-based knowledge can go a long way to prevention and allaying unnecessary fears.
 
Old Apr 24th, 2003, 03:36 PM
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The national post article is a perfect example of "figures don't lie, but liars figure." Their figures assume that SARS will not become a full-blown epidemic. This is not a reasonable assumption to make. Here's another article:
http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmp...ay/5098597&e=2

Health officials have to assume and plan for the worst possible scenario. This includes issuing warning before hundreds or thousands of people die. Better to scare some travellers away from Toronto than to look back in a few months and say "Gee, too bad we didn't warn people earlier." No one knows if this will turn into a big killer or a flash in the pan. On a risk analysis basis, given the potential downside (massive deaths), it is better to have people make fun of the "unnecessary" precautions than to have people mourning unnecessary deaths.
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Old Apr 24th, 2003, 04:55 PM
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Unfortunately, you don't "just scare some tourists away". This impacts many industries: hotel, f & b, airline, bus, trains etc etc. Conventions, board meetings etc are having to be postponed or relocated. The costs are not small.

BTW The CDC has NOT put Toronto on a no-go list only an alert list.

"The U.S. Centers for Disease Control had issued its own travel alert earlier in the week warning people travelling to Toronto to try to avoid health care facilities - where most of the spread of the disease has occurred - and to be vigilant for the symptoms of SARS on their return home." Toronto Star
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Old Apr 24th, 2003, 05:04 PM
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We know it's not on a no-go list--that's very clear. That point was already covered in this thread.

Again, health officials must assume the worst. It is a shame that various industries may be hurt; but it is better than having people die unnecessarily. Because we don't know how serious SARS might become, we must take steps as if it will become quite serious. You can't wait until hundreds or thousands are infected or dead to say "OK, let's start warning people about this and that." The public health folks think there is an unreasonable risk to not warning people. Hopefully, it will turn out that the warnings were not necessary; but we have no way of knowing for sure one way or the other right now.
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