Thu, May 08, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Section of Canadian Trade Office closes on SARS concerns

By Monique Chu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Canadian Trade Office has temporarily suspended its immigration and visa services after a locally hired employee was hospitalized with symptoms of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), a trade office spokesman said yesterday.

"Any of the staff that has had direct contact with her since last week would be under home quarantine as a preventive measure," office spokesman Weldon Epp said in a phone interview.

Epp said the measure would affect 25 of the office's 65 staffers.

It's too early to say whether the woman, who was hospitalized on Monday, was in fact infected by the SARS virus, Epp added.

The office's immigration and visa application services have been suspended until further notice, he said, declining to speculate on how long the suspension would last.

The Canadian Trade Office became the first foreign representative office or embassy in Taipei to be directly affected by the SARS outbreak.

The office, also known as the CTOT, said in its Web site that the hospitalized employee "did not at any time, during the course of CTOT duties, come in contact with CTOT clients."

Meanwhile, the British Trade and Cultural Office (BTCO) yesterday said it would continue accepting visa applications from local students and other visitors intending to travel to the UK.

The BTCO said the British government has not introduced any quarantine procedures for any passengers regardless of their point of origin.

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