If you're planning a trip to Toronto, you can rest easy now that the World Health Organization has crossed Toronto off its list of places to avoid because of SARS. It has now been 20 days since SARS has been passed to another person in Canada, and there are no new confirmed cases out of Toronto or Canada.
So, the WHO has lifted its travel advisory there, but the story is still much different in Asia where more than 10,000 people are in quarantine, hospitals are running low on beds, and cases of SARS and SARS related deaths continue to climb. From Hong Kong comes a new concern, 12 SARS patients who had recovered are reporting now what may be a relapse.
"The issues are: is it really a relapse? Is it really the same virus? What was the time frame in between? And most importantly, from a public health standpoint, are they infectious during this time? Don't know any of that yet," said Dr. David Weber, epidemiologist.
Meanwhile, the CDC says it will begin shipping the first experimental SARS test kits to several labs this week. In the U.S., there are 220 suspected cases with 52 cited as probable SARS infections. No one in the U.S. has died so far, and specialists here say they really aren't sure why.
Health officials stress that the tests -- which check for viral genes and SARS antibodies, the immune-system cells that attack infection -- are a research tool. A negative test won't clear someone who has SARS symptoms or was exposed to the virus. Such people still must be isolated for the appropriate amount of time.