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WHO concerned resurgence of SARS cases in Toronto

WHO deeply concerned by resurgence of SARS cases in Toronto

The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) said today it was deeply concerned by the resurgence of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in Toronto, Canada, which had been removed last month from the list of areas with recent local transmission.

Health authorities in Toronto are again on "high alert" following a new possible cluster of SARS patients in a hospital east of Toronto, WHO said. Although no clear epidemiological link has been established that could explain this new cluster, officials have adopted a cautious approach, treating all hospital-associated clusters of patients with fever or respiratory symptoms as possible SARS cases until proven otherwise.

"Possible cases are immediately isolated. All contacts are being traced and, when warranted, placed in home quarantine. Infection control measures are being followed in all affected facilities," WHO said in welcoming the precautionary measures.

The agency noted that many questions needed answering before firm conclusions could be reached. "One of the most dangerous stages in the evolution of any outbreak, and most especially one caused by a new and poorly understood disease, occurs when cases begin to decline and previous levels of high alert and precautionary measures likewise begin to level off," the agency added.

As of today, there have been a total of 8,435 probable cases, with 789 deaths reported in 28 countries.

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