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Toronto is a safe city to visit!

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
Please read the following article before passing judgement on the health of Canadians and particularly Torontonians.

Toronto Star headline:
Irate officials blast SARS warning
World travellers told to avoid Toronto for at least three weeks

The World Health Organization's warning against travelling to Toronto is an unnecessary move that could permanently damage the city, says the microbiologist at the front lines of battling the city's SARS outbreak.

"It's a bunch of bulls---," an angry Dr. Donald Low, chief microbiologist at the city's Mount Sinai Hospital, said today. "It's inappropriate. The impact on the city ... you won't be able to take this mark off."

The spread of SARS into a religious community in Toronto occurred more than two weeks ago, Low said, and there has been no further spread of the disease from that group.

"Everybody has been saying this is a critical week. They could have waited another four or five days and they'll see that in fact there are no new cases ... what I'm seeing is reassurance, and not reason to close down the city."
post #2 of 19
It's nice to hear it, since we have to go to Buffalo for a wedding in 3 weeks.

I don't think most sensible people are judging Canadians. NBC reported a couple of nights ago about a nurse with SARS symptoms who rode a commuter train and a healthcare worker with SARS symptoms who attended a funeral and was defiant and refused to isolate himself. I could easily--very easily--imagine an American doing the same thing. But the media likes to keep people in fear, because if we aren't fearful, we won't watch their silly news programs and see all the ads for Fosomax and Flonase and General Motors, etc.
post #3 of 19
Thread Starter 
Aargh. I just posted a long response but got a database error and lost it. Here's the short version:

The nurse didn't realise she had a fever until she got to work and had her temp taken as standard procedure. It was only slightly above normal so i think this is understandable.

The man swears he had no symptoms when he went to the funeral and as soon as he noticed symptoms went straight to the hospital and quarantine. He says a public health official came to his hospital room at 12:30am and tried to get him to sign something stating he knowingly exposed people to SARS. He got a little obnoxious at this point. I can't find any response to his comments from public health so there may be another side of this story I have missed.

Public Health officials, in my opinion, have behaved heroically thus far. This is the only instance I have seen of unprofessional behaviour and this particular health official has always struck me as a bit of a loose cannon. He seems to have disappeared from press conferences, too. All the others have been incredibly open and honest about what they know and don't know. They have all worked together towards a common goal without egos. They have inspired restraint in the press. If this was being handled by politicians they'd be wasting so much time back stabbing and finger pointing we'd all be sick.
post #4 of 19
Who are they kidding? With the type of travel that inevitably must take place in the world's economy, travel to and from regions particularly affected by SARS will continue, and the virus will likely continue to be spread. A simple warning against travel might blunt SARS' spread somewhat in the short term, but in the long run will do little to contain the virus. If they're really serious about SARS, they will take much stronger measures. All the WHO warning will likely do is cut into the tourism business and cause a bunch of non-essential meetings to be cancelled.
post #5 of 19
Thread Starter 
There were 1,084 cases of tuberculosis in New York City in 2002. Is it safe to travel to NYC?
post #6 of 19
How contagious are all forms of tuburculosis in comparison with SARS? You may very well be comparing apples and oranges.

Before you raise your hackles farther, Liz, don't assume that I believe that stronger quarantine measures ought to be taken in Toronto with respect to SARS, or even that present measures are warranted.
post #7 of 19
Thread Starter 
Tuberculosis is an airborne virus. SARS is transmitted through droplets (spit).

My hackles were raised by your dismissive attitude towards the affect the WHO's stance will have on this city. Cancelled conventions, non-essential or otherwise, will have a huge impact on the local economy. And if an intelligent person like Daylily is worried about going to Buffalo (100 miles away) just imagine how long it will take for the typical tourist to get up the nerve to travel to Toronto.

I was confused by the rest of your post. What are you saying?
post #8 of 19
I gotta be honest. I was planning a trip to Thunder Bay in June and my MIL said "I dunno, with SARS spreading over there..." I honestly have considered not going because of it? :

And.... not to dismiss your point Liz, but TB is considered 'under control' or not contagious after a week or two on anti-biotics so...????

I appreciate your article and will educate myself before making a final decision.

post #9 of 19
I understand that tuberculosis, once treatment has begun, becomes vanishingly contagious. Only two forms of it are contagious. It is spread in sputum, not in the air, to my understanding. I'm not a medical doctor, and am just going off of medical literature I've read, so this information could be wrong. Simple preventative measures such as coughing into one's hand (and then washing it) or coughing into a kleenex or handkerchief helps prevent its spread.

What I do not know, however, is the relative degree of contagiousness between SARS and tuburculosis. Without that bit of information, any attempt to compare the two is pointless.

My last comment in my last post merely refers to the fact that I have said nothing here concerning whether I believe present public health measures to control SARS are adequate, insufficient or overboard, let alone have advocated more stringent measures.
post #10 of 19
Thread Starter 
I'm no medical expert either. I just heard some medical expert talking about the TB problem in NYC in relation to SARS. I shouldn't have said anything without quoting him directly and I can't remember what he said.

"My last comment in my last post merely refers to the fact that I have said nothing here concerning whether I believe present public health measures to control SARS are adequate, insufficient or overboard, let alone have advocated more stringent measures."

So I really want to know (no hackles raised, I swear!), what do you think?
post #11 of 19
On the one hand, I think it's a good idea to judiciously limit travel to hot spots. On the other, however (and while I'm certainly no epidemiologist), it appears the cat is out of the bag, so to speak, and that the virus had spread so greatly within Guangdong, Hong Kong and Beijing before containment measures were taken that it was likely, if not altogether inevitable, that the virus would spread to other areas and eventually worldwide by the time the WHO got around to issuing travel advisories. Such a virus has been predicted for some decades now, and frankly it is quite worrisome.
post #12 of 19
Thread Starter 
Yes, they have predicted such a virus for years but I have heard many "experts" say this isn't it. How they know this I have no idea :

Besides the financial impact there is the impact on the morale here. We are all going about our lives quite normally so to hear that others are being warned against coming here is quite confusing. If others shouldn't come here, should I leave? If I leave will I be welcomed anywhere else? I feel under siege. And obviously a little defensive
post #13 of 19
It must be tough for you to be in that situation right now.

I grew up in NYC and was still living there when 9/11 happened (we had put an offer on this house on 9/8 and didn't close until that December). I felt passionately in love with New York and very proud to be a New Yorker at that time, and I felt very guilty about leaving it in its time of need. At the same time, I felt vulnerable and terrified that something else was going to happen and couldn't wait to get out of there. But I was angry at people who were avoiding the city because of those same fears.

I don't have an answer for how to deal with that feeling, but I do want to share that I know how it feels to have your hometown in some sort of danger and under the world's close scrutiny.
post #14 of 19
I believe that this is not a Toronto problem or an Asian problem but a global problem. I agree with the poster who said that the cat is out of the bag.
post #15 of 19
Thread Starter 
But the cat is not out of the bag in Toronto. Every case of SARS can be tracked back to its source. It is not "at large in the community", as the epidemiologists say. This is why the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta did not issue a travel advisory but merely a warning.

I agree that SARS will not be wiped out in the near future and is part of "The New Normal", the new buzz phrase around here. Just as tuberculosis, influenza, pneumonia, and HIV are considered normal.

I did see a catchy statistic that you are more likely to die in a plane crash on your way to Toronto than from SARS if you manage to get here.
post #16 of 19
The principal just cancelled my daughters band trip to Toronto.

this is so rediculous... I can't beleive how the media has blown this all out of proportion!!!

They had so many cool things planned: the band was going to march in some parade in a theme park (my daughter designed the flag show), they were going to go to Hard Rock Cafe, see Niagra Falls, go to some toy/video store...great trip planned. These kids really worked hard on fund raisers..the kids or parents werent worried about the trip or SARS....

...makes me angry!
post #17 of 19
I tend to agree with stacie, I feel SARS is getting a hideous push by the media. I think China may have been in the wrong for under-reporting it but then the press runs with it like it is the 1400s and it is the bubonic plague.

RE: toronto. I actually feel bad for Canada and Toronto because before I heard about the WHO report I had heard a couple of reports that the president and the prime minister of Canda are in a bit of a beef over The War. And trips were cancelled by both. Really kind of a symbolic slap in the face. then when this happened, well, I wondered if anyone in the administration had any pull ....it certainly is a financial punch which hurts more than a symbolic slap.
post #18 of 19


post #19 of 19
Thread Starter 
As much as Canadians love to blame everything on the US, I don't think we can in this case. The Center for Disease Control really backed us up loudly disagreeing with the WHO's decision. I think the problem is that whenever anybody who has been in Toronto comes down with the flu they are instantly a suspected SARS case and since there is no test they have to be treated as a real case until time proves otherwise. So it looks like Toronto is exporting SARS like Labatt's beer!

Hydrangea - you are absolutely right. The upside of all this is that Torontonians are really rallying around our city. Historically Torontonians are not flag wavers so we're new at this! Look for dh, ds and I at the baseball game tonight. I'm making a sign that says, "We're fine. Thanks for asking."
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