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April 23, 2003
City of Toronto disputes World Health Organization travel advisory
TORONTO, Ontario, Canada - Mayor Mel Lastman and the City of Toronto's Medical
Officer of Health, Dr. Sheela Basrur, expressed concern and disappointment
today with a World Health Organization (W.H.O.) travel advisory that recommends
against non-essential travel to Toronto due to Severe Acute Respiratory
Syndrome (SARS). Toronto is strongly urging the W.H.O. to reassess their
decision before its proposed re-evaluation waiting period of three weeks.

"This isn't a city in the grip of fear and panic," said Mayor Lastman. "This is
a city of 2.5 million people who are going about their business the same way
they always did. Let me be clear; it's safe to live in Toronto, and it's safe
to visit Toronto."

"In my opinion, the facts do not warrant a travel advisory at this time," said
Dr. Basrur. "To categorize Toronto with Beijing and other parts of China is a
gross misrepresentation of the facts. In Toronto, SARS is primarily a disease
of healthcare workers and has occurred largely in hospital settings. The
disease has not spread in community settings and that is very good news for the
city and for those travellers, visitors and business people who are considering
whether or not they should come to Toronto."

Dr. Clifford McDonald of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention -
in Toronto at the invitation of local health officials - stated at a news
conference today that he also disagrees with the W.H.O. travel advisory.

Dr. Basrur added, "In fact, the World Health Organization and the Centers for
Disease Control in the U.S. have both considered that Toronto and Ontario's
control efforts for SARS have been exemplary and a model for the world."

Visit the City of Toronto's Web site for the latest information on SARS. Go to for more information.

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