Page last updated at 08:12 GMT, Saturday, 10 May 2008 09:12 UK

Quarantined train given all-clear

Carriage of train stopped at Foleyet, ON
The train continued its journey after several hours in quarantine

Canadian health officials have said the death of a woman and several people falling ill aboard a train were not due to an infectious disease.

The passenger train was quarantined in Northern Ontario on Friday, but officials said the death and illnesses were probably not related at all.

The 290 passengers and crew resumed their journey and were expected to arrive in Toronto later on Saturday.

Ontario's chief medical officer said the dead woman did not have a disease.

Dr David Williams said: "Health officials have determined that the death of the passenger and the illness of the other six passengers are not related."

But while he said the other illnesses reported were not related, Dr Williams added it was important to anticipate the worst scenario.

"Retrospectively, maybe someone can say it was over done but if, say, there was a real problem then it certainly would have been appropriate and it was appropriate," he said.

Praised operation

The train had been travelling from Vancouver to Toronto when a woman in her 60s fell ill and died on Friday morning.

Map showing Foleyet

The train was stopped in the tiny hamlet of Foleyet and surrounded by emergency services, who evacuated the local station.

Emergency and medical officials boarded the train in biohazard suits and masks and a second passenger was airlifted to hospital, where she was diagnosed with a respiratory illness and is said to be in a stable condition.

Five other passengers who complained of mild flu-like symptoms had been quarantined in a separate carriage and treated by a doctor, who was "not concerned for their immediate health," Ontario Provincial Police Staff Sergeant Rob Knox said.

Dr Williams praised the way the operation was carried out.

"I'm satisfied that the appropriate steps were taken," he said.

"A lot of people acted in a calm, collected way and went about their duties and responsibilities accordingly."

A 2003 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in Toronto killed dozens of people and caused widespread panic.

"We're taking precautions and we did learn lessons from SARS, so our medical teams and the health care system in general have learned that you would put safety first," said health ministry official Laurel Ostfield.

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