Canada quarantines mums and newborns

HONG KONG: Mothers and newborn babies were in quarantine in Canada yesterday after a health worker in an obstetrics ward developed SARS following a 10-day isolation period, rattling efforts to control the deadly disease. 

Canadian officials said 60 staff from Mount Sinai Hospital in Ontario had also been isolated after the medical trainee developed symptoms two days after his quarantine period. 

“It appears that the person may have been (symptomatic) beyond the 10 days,” said James Young, Ontario's commissioner for public security. 

“World opinion still remains that 10 days is the correct time, but everyone acknowledges that there could be outlying cases slightly beyond the 10 days.” 

The case is a blow to attempts to control Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in Canada, where officials have been reporting that a second outbreak in Ontario province was tailing off. 

Thirty-one people have died from SARS in Canada, by far the worst-hit country outside Asia by the flu-like illness which has no vaccine or cure. 

More cases in Taiwan late on Friday did not deter officials preparing to lobby the World Health Organisation (WHO) to lift its travel advisory against the island.  

The officials insisted SARS had been brought under control there. 

“As long as the situation is dealt with immediately, we are sure that the virus can be stopped from spreading,” said Li Ming-liang, head of the cabinet's SARS Contingency Committee. 

The Department of Health was to give a presentation to the WHO officials in Taiwan yesterday or today despite reporting its first new cases in six days on Friday. 

“If everything goes smoothly, we will send out our application on Monday. Hopefully we will hear from the WHO some time next week,” Li said. 

Eighty-one people have died from SARS in Taiwan from 677 cases.  

The world death toll stands at least 779 deaths from about 8,500 infections. – AFP  

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