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WHO lifts Toronto travel ban
April 29, 2003 4:23 PM   Subscribe

WHO lifts Toronto travel ban. And Health Canada Recommendations: Health Canada continues to strongly endorse travel into and throughout the GTA [Greater Toronto Area] as safe and encourages travellers to maintain their business and/or personal travel plans to the GTA.
That's just great. What, a week after banning all travel to Toronto because of SARS, it's on again?

That's bloody irresponsible, considering the damage it has done and will continue to do so to travel to Canada no less Toronto. [s'more inside]
posted by alicesshoe (15 comments total)

 
For a city of 3 million, there were under 100 cases of SARS. That's truly not the epidemic WHO was suggesting, now was it? The city was keeping great track of whom has been in contact with x health care worker who was suspected of the disease and people who had attended a particular funeral and one particular commuter, where they may have come in contact with someone suspected of the disease, so I wasn't concerned.

In fact, even my 100 year old grandmother's home released her to attend a family Easter dinner. Would they place her and their other residents in mortal danger [death] if according to the WHO there was such an incredible possibility in Toronto?

The CDC commented Toronto shouldn't have been targeted for a travel ban. Also, as discussed here before, it was an unprecidented move by the WHO.


My question to WHO [World Health Organization] [not whom] is why didn't they do their due diligence on this city BEFORE placing a travel ban in the first place? They didn't visit [like our dork Mayor said, the one thing he got right on CNN's interview with Aaron Brown] and take into account what was being done here.


How do we [citizens of the world] hold these organizations accountable? I haven't a problem with erring on the side of favour, however, as I pointed out what steps Toronto took to contain SARS.


Now the WHO is holding Toronto as a prime example of how to contain SARS! What the hell indeed. What's going on?

posted by alicesshoe at 4:27 PM on April 29, 2003


First of all, I believe there were way over 100 cases of SARS. Also, Toronto is way past the 3 million mark. But that's all just nitpicking.

My opinion is that the WHO should not have reversed its decision. Toronto's substandard and irresponsible health care system is inadequate to deal with a dangerous infectious disease. I have seen Toronto's health care facilities first-hand. The way they handle standard emergency room visits, much more so infectious diseases, is truly outrageous.

I won't even mention Canada's laughable control of how people enter and leave the country. SARS, terrorist funders, you name it -- anyone can come and go as they please.

The WHO advisory was a blessing. Now that Toronto's officials are clutching their most vital organs -- their pockets -- perhaps the response will be a little more serious.

And what's the deal with Chretien cabinet's taxpayer-sponsored vacation to Royal York, Toronto? How typical. If these are the people who manage our economy, the blow dealt by SARS is truly inconsequential.
posted by Krrrlson at 4:50 PM on April 29, 2003


Here's a reprint of an interesting WSJ editorial on how this summer may be the last chance to eradicate SARS.
posted by homunculus at 4:54 PM on April 29, 2003


Krrrlson: The number of probable cases in all of Ontario as of April 27 was 139. Toronto would account for most (but maybe not all) of these.

A comparison that's been made in the Canadian media is Toronto vs. Singapore. Toronto has 139 cases & 4.7 million people for 29.7 cases per million; Singapore has 195 cases & 4.2 million people for 47.6 cases per million. But then, Singapore has imposed draconian containment measures that civil libertarians hate but the WHO loves, so they didn't get slapped with a travel advisory.

(By comparison, Hong Kong has 1527 cases and 6.8 million people for a whopping 224.6 cases per million...)
posted by Johnny Assay at 5:34 PM on April 29, 2003


Krrrlson: the issue is only the end result. there have been no new publicly transmitted cases of SARS in Toronto in over 3 weeks. The incubation period for SARS is 10 days. Do the math yourself - that would indicate that Toronto is basically out of the woods when it comes to new transmissions of the disease.

Containment of people already infected is obviously very difficult without seriously restricting civil liberties, but the WHO as well as the CDC and other organizations all seem to agree that the measures taken of late have been more than sufficient.

I would be much more concerned about China now...
posted by cyberbry at 6:10 PM on April 29, 2003


Krrrlson: The way they handle standard emergency room visits, much more so infectious diseases, is truly outrageous.

Unless you're in the health care business or some other business that is closely related to health care, I'm not sure your comment is valid. Nor do I think that this observation is valid: I won't even mention Canada's laughable control of how people enter and leave the country. SARS, terrorist funders, you name it -- anyone can come and go as they please. Short of limiting the civil rights of Canadians, how do you expect to control how diseases and terrorist funders get into Canada? Or any other country that has a high level of civil rights? And what do diseases and terrorist funders have in common, anyway?

I would be more concerned about people who have been quarantined yet go to public places.

ps. krrrlson, it sounds like you had a bad experience at the Emergency. FWIW, I hope you quickly got better.
posted by ashbury at 8:13 PM on April 29, 2003


What's going on?

I suppose they simply realized that using T.O. as a scapegoat to take the heat off of China wasn't going to work. They must have been assuming Canadians still live up to that now long-defunct reputation as being all nice, polite, and quiet and were consequently soooprized to find us loudly in their face, demanding a fairer estimation of the facts.

I think we should get all litigious on their asses and sue for revenues lost, and also have the 2008 games moved to T.O., heh.
posted by zarah at 8:23 PM on April 29, 2003


>I won't even mention Canada's laughable control of how people enter and leave the country. SARS, terrorist funders, you name it -- anyone can come and go as they please.

And you'd rather harrass non-whites for a few hours when they enter the country?

Sorry, but immigration and free passage is what has made Canada a powerhouse economy, considering the extremely low population density.

Close up the borders and we'll just have 1867 again. No-thank-you.

>I have seen Toronto's health care facilities first-hand. The way they handle standard emergency room visits, much more so infectious diseases, is truly outrageous.

That's unfortunate, and it's a result of socialist health care. C'est la vie! Top notch service for the few, or barely-up-to-scratch service for everyone.
posted by shepd at 8:24 PM on April 29, 2003


The way they handle standard emergency room visits, much more so infectious diseases, is truly outrageous.

In what sense? I was a nurse in Toronto, emergency room visits are handled in more or less exactly the same way in Toronto as they are in the US, the UK or anywhere else comparable you care to name. As are infectious diseases. Correct protocol is correct protocol - the protocols are the same in Canada as they are in the US. One bad experience is hardly representative of the system as a whole.
posted by biscotti at 8:30 PM on April 29, 2003


The way they handle standard emergency room visits, much more so infectious diseases, is truly outrageous.

You know i hear this over and over again but it always lacks details. I have had unpleasant experiences waiting in Canadian emergency wards and usually it was long delays in getting treatment. However, I wasn't dying so I can live with it. After all, when I do get wheeled in, in a life and death situation, I too, would like priority over the guy with a broken arm. I do know that I already owe my life to the excellent work of the canadian health care system on one occasion. I only hope the national post subscribers don't turn it into their personal private health care clinic and leave me on the outside with my nose pressed against the glass for the inevitable next occasion.
posted by srboisvert at 8:53 PM on April 29, 2003


(By comparison, Hong Kong has 1527 cases and 6.8 million people for a whopping 224.6 cases per million...)

Which is still only .225 per Thousand. I'm still not shaking. I don't want to dispute the legitimacy for the potential of this disease, but you still have to put it in perspective compared to all of the other things that we deal with on a daily basis.

(maybe it would be different had there been more than 2 reported cases in the D/FW area thus far, I dunno)
posted by Ufez Jones at 9:57 PM on April 29, 2003


I don't really think you can compare case rates for Singapore and Toronto, I mean obviously there is going to be a lot more travel between sg and neighboring Asian countries then with Toronto.
posted by delmoi at 6:38 AM on April 30, 2003


Zarah,
That is so Pulp Fiction! [I'm looking forward to the next Tarantino film] I agree, get litigious on their asses! I want accountability and if WHO acted in an unprecidented manner, ie: travel ban without due diligence, then they need to be sued, disbanded or deemed without merit or benefit to the world.

Where is their credibility now then? Do we believe them the next time they make a decision [seemingly] off the cuff?

I no longer trust them and will treat their subsequent warnings with a healthy dose of scepticism.
posted by alicesshoe at 7:25 AM on April 30, 2003


Wow -- so many responses to my inflammatory comments and I don't think even one called me a troll. Guess Canadians still are more polite :)

But anyways, here's a couple of follow-up points. First of all, no reports of new SARS cases does not equal no new SARS cases. Do you remember how long it took the health care workers to figure out that patients had SARS? Patients from the same families who kept sequentially developing symptoms? It's the tritest of cheap thriller movie lines -- "We haven't heard anything from the villain in days. We're safe. It's all over."

Secondly, I'd attribute a great deal of success in SARS containment to the WHO advisory. It was certainly a powerful incentive to Toronto's healthcare workers (and politicians) to be more careful.

Thirdly, let's not compare Canada to China, shall we? I'd like to delude myself into thinking we have a slightly better life. Where China can get away with thousands of cases, a hundred cases is outrageous in Canada.

Next order of business -- there's a pronounced difference between a high level of civil rights and having your national security afflicted with Down syndrome. What do terrorist funders and diseases have in common? The fact that we will ignore a known Hamas sponsor landing at Pearson just as easily as we will ignore a coughing, wheezing person returning from a region with an outbreak. Remember how customs kept that innocent woman around for three days taking turns at body cavity searching? Why aren't they always so prudent? I do not want abuse of civil rights (never mind the racist and generally idiotic remarks produced every year by French Canadian officials). What I want is the elimination of gross inefficiency and irresponsibility in controlling our borders.

Also, unchecked immigration has given Canada skilled workers and money, as well as untold amounts of freeloaders who abuse government programs. Leaving refugees and the Geneva convention out of the scope for the moment, a country needs to be discriminate about who it lets in. Everyone cannot be helped.

And lastly, I'm not resentful at Toronto's medical systems because a nurse was five minutes late with my Band-aid last time I was at the ER. My personal experience has to do with numerous visits to hospitals with three aged and one adult individual (herself a qualified nurse), as well as a couple of serious visits on my own part. If what I saw is correct protocol, biscotti, then it's a miracle we're not all dead. This goes far beyond insufferably long delays for seriously hurt patients -- it has to do with incompetent care. It does not take a licensed medical official to detect when a health care worker is doing a ridiculously poor job, is hostile, unhelpful, or is plain slacking off. It does not take a licensed medical official to know that a person from the infectious diseases ward should not be kept around regular visitors and use the same changing booths, much less to know that a nurse should wash her hands after handling such an individual. These are but a few examples.

Every now and then we have a media circus when someone actually dies because of such incompetence and negligence. But that doesn't mean the problem vanishes when it's not in the papers. The health care system is atrocious and will continue to deteriorate if significant reforms and stricter controls are not implemented.
posted by Krrrlson at 12:24 PM on April 30, 2003


And as a much shorter addendum, the National Post may be biased. Unfortunately, with the nauseating drivel cranked out by the other national newspapers on the other end of the spectrum, there is no respectable objective publication to rely on.

Oh, and the CBC is an affront to objectivism. Sure, there's no such thing in journalism anymore, but a network funded by taxpayers has no right to be the left-wing equivalent of Fox News.
posted by Krrrlson at 12:30 PM on April 30, 2003


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