The World Health Organization (WHO) took Toronto off its list of SARS-affected areas on Wednesday, the second time it has done so, prompting hopes that the city's nightmare with the deadly respiratory disease is finally over after nearly 400 cases and 39 deaths. \nOntario's Ministry of Health said Toronto would remain vigilant in its fight against the virus. Health officials had thought they had ended the outbreak in May, but it resurfaced, dealing the city's health workers a devastating blow. \n"We're not out of the woods yet," a spokeswoman for the ministry said. "It is likely we are going to have deal with this disease for some time." \nEleven people are still in critical condition but there have been no new cases of severe acute respiratory syndrome since June 12 in and around Toronto, the only place outside Asia where the virus has claimed lives. \nThe WHO required 20 days -- twice the normal incubation period for the virus -- to pass without a new cases before taking Toronto off the list. \n"I think we can declare that Canada has finally beaten the disease," said Dr. Bhagirath Singh, scientific director of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research's Institute of Infection and Immunity. \nBut he warned, "The only issue is what happens later in the year. Would we see resurgence of the disease or is it now a thing of the past?" \nToronto's first outbreak of SARS started in mid-March and lasted until early May. In the middle of that month, the city was taken off the WHO's SARS-affected list, But health officials let down their guard in hospitals, where the virus still lingered and infected a 96-year-old patient, who then spread the disease to nurses, other patients and visitors. \n"First time around, probably we were in too much haste to make sure that Canada had a presence on the international stage, showing that we had taken measures which really had made the disease a thing of the past," Singh said in an interview. \n"Unfortunately, the optimism was too premature and the time window was too short to be absolutely sure. I think this time around, the time window has been a bit longer and we've learned that things are not as they appear." \nSARS has infected more than 380 people in Ontario, most of them in the Toronto area. As of Monday, there were 22 probable cases of SARS in the city of about 4 million people. Across Canada, there have been about 440 cases of SARS since March. \nThe Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs recommended on Wednesday that people defer all nonessential travel to Taiwan until the SARS epidemic has ended. \n"Given the uncertainties of the current situation, Health Canada believes it is prudent to await the outcome of national and international control measures before undertaking travel to Taiwan," the ministry said in a statement.
A coronavirus-free tropical island nestled in the northern Pacific might seem the perfect place to ride out a pandemic, but residents on Palau said that life right now is far from idyllic. The microstate of 18,000 people is among a dwindling number of places on Earth that still report zero cases of COVID-19 as figures mount daily elsewhere. The disparate group also includes Samoa, Turkmenistan, North Korea and bases on the frozen continent of Antarctica. A dot in the ocean hundreds of kilometers from its nearest neighbors, Palau is surrounded by the vast Pacific Ocean, which has acted as a buffer against the
Dutch scientists have found the coronavirus in a city’s wastewater before COVID-19 cases were reported, demonstrating a novel early warning system for the disease. SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 — is often excreted in an infected person’s stool. Although it is unlikely that sewage will become an important route of transmission, the pathogen’s increasing circulation in communities would increase the amount of it flowing into sewer systems, Gertjan Medema and colleagues at the KWR Water Research Institute in Nieuwegein said on Monday. They detected genetic material from the coronavirus at a wastewater treatment plant in Amersfoort on March 5, before
TRUE TOLL? Some Chinese are skeptical about official data, particularly given the overwhelmed medical system and initial attempts to cover up the outbreak The long lines and stacks of urns greeting family members of the dead at funeral homes in Wuhan, China, are spurring questions about the true scale of casualties at the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, renewing pressure on a Chinese government struggling to control its containment narrative. The families of those who succumbed to the coronavirus in the city, where the disease first emerged, were allowed to pick up their cremated ashes at eight funeral homes last week. As they did, photographs circulated on Chinese social media of thousands of urns being ferried in. Outside one funeral home, trucks shipped in about 2,500
KEEN INTEREST: India is trying to procure medical gear from domestic producers and abroad, and China has emerged as a possible supplier as its factories reopen India is to buy ventilators and masks from China to help it deal with COVID-19, a government official said yesterday, even though some countries in Europe had complained about the quality of the equipment. India has recorded 1,251 cases of the coronavirus, with 32 deaths, but health experts said the country of 1.3 billion people could see a major surge in cases that could overwhelm its weak public health system. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government said that it was trying to procure medical gear, including masks and body coveralls, both from domestic firms and from countries such as South Korea and