Thousands quarantined in Canada over SARSTORONTO, Canada (CNN) -- More than 5,000 people are in quarantine in Toronto,including students from one high school, as Canadian officials try to contain a new SARS outbreak. Students and staff at Father Michael McGivney Catholic Academy near Toronto were told to quarantine themselves for 10 days after officials reported a student with SARS symptoms attended the school last week.
About 5,100 people are under quarantine in Ontario, according to Dr. Colin D'Cunha, Ontario's commissioner for public health. Unlike isolation, which applies to those with SARS symptoms, quarantine is for people without the symptoms but who have come into contact with SARS cases.
In addition, an unknown number of health care workers are in "working quarantine," which means they may continue to work around patients under strict guidelines such as taking private transportation to their jobs and donning protective wear that must be changed with each new patient.
As quarantine figures rise, the number of SARS deaths and cases are also increasing.
Two elderly women died of the SARS virus in the Toronto area, D'Cunha, reported Wednesday taking the total death toll in Canada from the disease to 29.
The deaths came as officials announced two more SARS cases for a total of 34 -- 11 are probable, and 23 are suspect.
Canadian officials are forming a temporary alliance among four Toronto-area hospitals in their effort to isolate and control the spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome.
All treatment and expertise related to SARS will be concentrated at the four facilities, allowing the rest of the area's health care system to keep running smoothly during the current flare-up, said Tony Clement, Ontario's minister of health and long-term care.
Toronto was put back on the World Health Organization's list of SARS-affected areas Monday after new cases of the disease were reported.
Canada thought it had contained SARS and declared itself free of the disease a week ago but has found itself struggling with the largest outbreak outside Asia.
Canadian officials say the new cluster of cases have been traced to a 96-year-old man who died May 1 after two bouts of pneumonia that hospital workers did not link to SARS until the new cases emerged.
"The first case of the second outbreak was under the radar screen for a while because he was not exhibiting the typical SARS' symptoms that health professionals have been used to," said Tony Clement, Ontario's minister of health.
Abating in Asia?
Taiwan reported 50 new probable cases of SARS Thursday, including 40 patients who were reclassified from suspect to probable infections, Reuters reported. No deaths were reported in Thursday in Taiwan, the third-hardest hit area in the world.
Taiwan lags only behind mainland China and Hong Kong in total SARS cases, but is currently the most active region for the outbreak.
In China, where the number of new cases is dwindling in its urban centers, the government on Thursday made prevention and treatment of the disease in the country's vast rural areas a top priority.
China's Health Ministry announced the smallest rise in the number of SARS cases in mainland China since the government began tracking the illness.
The ministry confirmed three new cases -- bringing the total to 5,325 -- and two new SARS-related deaths, raising the death toll to 327.
The ministry said all of the new cases and one of the deaths occurred in the hard-hit capital of Beijing. The other death was in neighboring Hebei province.
The government acknowledged the SARS situation "remains grave," saying that to put SARS under complete control "the key is in the countryside," where the majority of China's 1.3 billion people live.
Russia confirmed its first SARS case on Wednesday, a 25-year-old man who lives in a town bordering China. (Full story)
Reuters contributed to this report.
|Find this article at: |