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watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 May, 2003, 21:23 GMT 22:23 UK
Sars virus: Are you affected?
A young boy checks his sister's mask as his whole family is admitted to hospital with Sars-like symptoms, Taipei.
Mass resignations of health workers in Taiwan are bringing extra pressure on the island's medical system as a record 65 new cases of Sars are reported.

Five new infections have also been announced in China where the disease first emerged. Since November, over 660 people have died worldwide and nearly 8,000 have been infected.

Have you changed travel plans because of the spreading virus? Has the international community overreacted?

We discussed Sars with WHO expert, Dr Mike Ryan, in our phone-in programme Talking Point.
The following comments reflect the balance of views we have received:

SARS, understandably, has hit the headlines. A new virus that spreads quickly and kills a fairly high percentage of its victims. Heaven help us if it reaches Africa. But remember that HIV/AIDS kills everyone it infects eventually.
J.W. Scotland

If there ever was an example of media over-reaction and sensationalism, it's about SARS in Toronto
Carol Auld, Toronto
If there ever was an example of media over-reaction and sensationalism, it's about SARS in Toronto. SARS is not an issue for myself. I live in downtown Toronto and haven't changed any of my habits since SARS. There are more people killed by car accidents than SARS yet we don't hear the media reporting that, or recommending a ban on traffic! Visitors of the world -- don't let media disinformation stop you from visiting our beautiful city! Lots of fabulous concerts and events are here in Toronto, not to mention fabulous restaurants representing all the cultures of the world!
Carol Auld, Toronto, Canada

My wife has a transplanted kidney and must use immuno-suppressant drugs to prevent rejection. She has been told that if she gets Sars, she will die. She was planning a trip with relatives to Arkansas. Recently, a business traveller from Canada brought Sars to Arkansas. They cannot by law reveal exactly where he stopped in Arkansas. Ridiculous laws!
Barry, Shreveport USA

Toronto's experience with SARS seems out of the ordinary but when this epidemic is related to a forest fire - one can gauge the problems the international community is faced with. Like a fire that only burns the roots of a tree unseen for months or even years, SARS can spread with little attention or even knowledge of its presence only to resurface with the potential for a wildfire. And if the only fully publicly funded universal access health care system in the world does not have the coordination to contain a relatively minor outbreak, the world is doomed as China and all the positive news it brings denies the problems left unseen.
Eric Hovius, Toronto, Canada

There has been unnecessary panic and fear over the issue
Tracia Liang, Sudbury, USA
My close relatives (grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins) from both sides of my family all live in Taiwan. We have been afraid for their sakes. I personally am not afraid of Sars, but I am afraid that one of my relatives will catch it. Also, my father recently travelled to Taiwan on a business trip. We were all worried for the two to three weeks he was gone. He is back now, and very healthy. The disease is horrible, but there has been unnecessary panic and fear over the issue.
Tracia Liang, Sudbury, USA

It breaks my heart to see my fellow Taiwanese suffer as they do now, without help from the WHO. Sure they have been asked not to panic but if you had to fight an invisible enemy which kills 15% of its targets, would you not be frightened?
Olivia Kahn, Melbourne, Australia

I thought Taiwan would have learned the lesson from others how to tackle Sars.
Linda, Taipei, Taiwan

We have booked our honeymoon to Hong Kong, Bangkok and Phuket in October. Obviously planning a wedding is a stressful enough time, now we have the added worry of whether to cancel our dream holiday. I feel torn between whether to believe what is in the press, and take the advice from WHO to cancel travel, or to risk missing out on a fantastic holiday. I know October is months away yet, but I really don't know what to believe, or what to do for the best.

Sars is still spreading at an alarming rate here in Taiwan and it will be some time before the outbreak is contained. But more saddening than the disease itself is the ignorance of the people and the largely unnecessary fear and chaos resulting from it. While crowds are rushing to the stores and starting scare buying of the N95 face masks some businessmen are hoarding the goods for huge profits. In my opinion, in such a time of scarcity we should unite our force and resources more than ever. It is best that we use normal face masks for ordinary protection and save the special ones for doctors and nurses working to fight the virus. We could definitely cope with the situation better if we can overcome our panic and selfishness and confront the epidemic with care and understanding for each other.
Lin Liang Yen, Taipei, Taiwan

Come to Hong Kong and see for yourself - it is as safe and enjoyable a place to visit as ever
Jeremy Newton, Hong Kong
It is really quite depressing how out of control the media and public reaction to this issue has become. The highly damaging effects on Asian economies is testament to poor government management and a media wishing to replace Iraq with another story of doom. The media needs to publish perhaps a series of more sober and rational stories, telling of how small the real risk is of Sars.

Examine if you will how many more people die of ordinary pneumonia, of malaria, of just about anything else you care to think of. It is a shame that affected businesses cannot sue for damage caused by the hype surrounding this virus - the number of dollars would perhaps make some correspondents and editors think twice before rushing to print. Come to Hong Kong and see for yourself - it is as safe and enjoyable a place to visit as ever.
Jeremy Newton, Hong Kong

The disease is horrible but they've never terrified our medical staff. The disease claimed some lives of them but the rest still held on for us to fight in the frontline. Sars is a disaster, but I am proud of the cohesion and spirit we have. I just want to say thank you to all medical staff.
Ken, Hong Kong

Regardless of the true seriousness of Sars as an epidemic, it has had a profound effect on my family and many others in a multitude of ways. The Chinese government has ceased all international adoptions and has put my family's 14-month wait for a daughter on hold for an indeterminate amount of time. Unlike other prospective adoptive parents of Chinese orphans, I do not believe it is the US Government's role to put pressure on China to accept our travel requests. While it is painful to think about our future daughter living in the orphanage for any more time, it is still a very happy thought that we have been given this opportunity at all.
Scott Marshall, Philadelphia, USA

I have just returned from a holiday in the US and Europe, stopping for five hours at Singapore on the way home. Apart from asking people to come forward if they had a cough or fever there was no other action taken. Apparently if you were leaving the airport in Singapore they took your temperature. A friend I was travelling with had decided a few days earlier to cancel her two-day stopover in Singapore. The only time my luggage was checked, apart from scanning, was when I left Australia.
Janine Walker, Melbourne Australia

Our government should sit down and think about how to set up a centre for disease control
Kam-Keung, Hong Kong
With the daily new cases of Sars down to single digits and the younger kids back to school on 19th May, it is a relief. There was no panicking in this city other than the initial weeks of poor government judgement in underestimated the spreading of Sars. Perhaps, once this outbreak is over, our government should sit down and think about how to set up a centre for disease control.
Kam-Keung, Hong Kong

I am shocked at how easily the media can manipulate and affect people's emotions. This virus is nothing compared to the normal flu virus, which happens to effect thousands of people in the UK every year and kills many more than Sars has this year. I believe the virus was used to create a convenient and overly extravagant story, which helped to replace the war stories emanating from Iraq. I agree entirely that the effect on businesses and national economies is real and hard felt. Its a shame it is caused by media outlets that thrive on scare mongering and anxiety creation.
Sean, UK

The most amazing part of this Sars chaos is that WHO pays no attention to Taiwan or any non-UN member countries! When the Taiwan government officials were asking for help and asking for reagent from WHO, WHO flat-out refused to provide help of any kind!! WHO, like the unless UN, no longer functions as it promises to do. Political power is certainly more important than human lives in WHO.
Austin, USA

Sars put my business under sufficient pressure that I had to take another job and stop all investment in our technology programs. We are only a small outfit, but we spend money with other start-ups. Many of us "risk-takers" will be wiped out by this.
Simon Birkett, Singapore

Maybe someone feel we are too overreacting
Chen Ying, Wu, Taipei Taiwan
Without doubt, Sars affected our lives seriously. News and TV report casualty everyday, and we are afraid of where is the next outbreak area of our community. Maybe someone feel we are too overreacting this way, but one thing is true: in order to keep the Sars from spreading and under control, only when we cooperate with the government can we expect the disappearance of Sars.
Chen Ying, Wu, Taipei Taiwan

I am living in Taiwan and was unable to attend my mother's funeral recently due to the Sars outbreak. The panic caused by it all has people behaving and acting irrationally. One nurse recently broke her quarantine in Taipei and took a 4 hour bus trip to Kaohsiung. How many people she infected remains to be seen. The government here has not acted quickly enough and has failed to enforce quarantine measures thus allowing the virus to spread into the community whereas before it was confined to hospitals in Taipei.
Julian Hutchings, Kaohsiung Taiwan

Sars has taken a toll on the South Korean economy, which is already troubled by the nuclear standoff. Although there were no definite cases of Sars in South Korea, (only three probable patients) China, including Hong Kong, is the biggest trading partner of South Korea. In addition, everyone I know who had plans to visit South East Asia or China has cancelled their travel plans.
Chung, Tagyoung, Seoul, Korea

This rule is a bit harsh but necessary. Those selfish people who refuse to be insulated coercively must be punished!
Kee, London

Can they afford to tell the truth?
Nancy Gilliam, Essex
How can we be confident the countries affected by Sars are honest with the figures released? For instance, how can Malaysia be so lightly affected when Singapore is reporting so many cases? There is so much movement and traffic between the two countries via Johore. Countries like Thailand and Malaysia rely on tourism so much, can they afford to tell the truth?
Nancy Gilliam, Essex

I have cancelled recent business trips to China due to Sars and continue to worry about my associates and friends in China who I maintain regular contact with. I believe that China is acting correctly in terms of setting harsh penalties for those who spread the disease by ignoring restrictions, but would hope that the harshest penalties are only reserved for officials who cover up the situation and not for those people who act out of fear for their lives.
John, Bloomfield, New Jersey, USA

Having learned that Mr Michael Martin of Irish Health Ministry bans athletes of the Sars-affected countries from entering the country, I worry the Ministry may ban all Chinese students studying in Ireland from returning and hold us up for unjustified quarantine even though health report is provided. We are not Sars carriers, and we are not all travelling to the affected areas.
Robert S. Tsai, Dublin, Ireland

I am a student in Hong Kong. Since the outbreak of Sars I have been asked to wear mask everyday and have to attend classes earlier to let my teachers check my body temperature. Well, it's really troublesome and time-consuming. But anyway, we all know that these measures are needed.
DJS, Tuen Mun, Hong Kong

Many illnesses have proven to be far more deadly
Carl, Taiwan
Sars, or any illness that kills, is a terrible thing. However, I feel we are overreacting to this current threat. Many illnesses have proven to be far more deadly. Students at my school have been subject to daily temperature monitoring and the school has even gone as far as spraying the floors with bleach. It creates a sense of unnecessary panic. We need to remain calm.
Carl, Taiwan

Ireland has just told Hong Kong, China and other Sars-affected countries not to participate in the Special Olympics to be held there. And I thought the Special Olympics is about ending discrimination?
Han, Hong Kong

I was disappointed with the manner in which China dealt with the problem. It seems that governments throughout the world only act upon a situation once a problem begins to get out of control. I appreciate that they fear for their economy and tourist reputation, but a disease this deadly should not have been kept hidden. Maybe if China had let slip earlier we could have stopped a lot more people getting infected, and a lot more dying.
Luke McCormick, Clacton

Sars have been affecting HK for nearly two months. Though the condition has been eased, our feelings still can't be settled. Since HK has been facing economic crisis, the sudden Sars outbreak further aggravates the situation. The confidence of HK citizens have nearly fell to the bottom. Can HK be prosperous again?
Serina, HK

There are renewed concerns about the spread of Severe Loss of Perspective Syndrome (SLOPS)
Tim, Hong Kong
The WHO today issued a new warning against non-essential travel to the entire Western hemisphere following renewed concerns about the spread of Severe Loss of Perspective Syndrome (SLOPS). Officials are warning travellers not to visit the UK, the US, almost all of Western Europe, and Canada, following further outbreaks of the disease, which has led to mass panic among the media and the public.

The Sars virus has now claimed a staggering 500 lives in only six months, which makes it considerably more deadly than, say, malaria, which only kills around 3,000 people every single day. Sars has made at least one English person feel a bit iffy for a couple of days, and is therefore considered much more serious.

The rapid spread of SLOPS has been linked to the end of the war in Iraq and the need for Western leaders to give the public something to worry about. Otherwise, they might start asking uncomfortable questions about domestic issues, and that simply would not do.
Tim, Hong Kong

Those who spread Sars are now supposed to be executed but Chinese Government must think of who is really responsible for this. The government covered up for several months, it doesn't provide modern medical care so that people depend on traditional remedies but government is accusing only citizens. This is ridiculous.
Peter, Toronto, Canada

Amidst all the negative elements brought about by Sars, I can say one good thing. It has encouraged Filipinos to re-consider holiday plans spent in neighbouring countries. A great number of Filipinos are now opting for domestic travel which will boost the ailing local tourism industry and enable Filipinos to enjoy our the cultural diversity and natural beauty.
Abigail Villaraza, Manila, Philippines

Sars is not affecting many people in Taiwan. We need the tourism. The risk of being infected in very low, there is too much hype about Sars.
Leen, Taiwan

Let's not forget the far worrying diseases like malaria, HIV and tuberculosis
Danny Lim, Brunei
Imagine if there was a deadly infectious disease which spreads easily and kills millions every year. Well imagine no more, malaria has been estimated to kill an African child every second. The funny thing is, from reading the news, you wouldn't get the impression that malaria is such a serious problem. Instead, the Sars virus seems to have taken the limelight. Though it is a serious issue, please, let's not forget the far, far worrying diseases like malaria, HIV and tuberculosis which have been relatively ignored by the developed nations.
Danny Lim, Brunei

I am due to go to Singapore and Hong Kong shortly, as part of a holiday. I simply do not know what to do. I do not wish to cancel any part of my trip, and do feel that people are overreacting. But on the other hand, if the UK govt are still advising against visiting HK, can I really ignore this.
Gillian, London

Like many people around the world, I have been indirectly affected by Sars by way of fear. Fear about the spread of Sars and what would happen if it came to my city and country. As Vietnam and Canada have been able to erase the virus (and Singapore seems almost there), that fear has given way to hope that Sars can be beaten. I can't see any good reason why other countries can't beat the virus too.
Peter, Brisbane, Australia

Life is slowly getting back somewhere near to normality in Singapore. I doubt it will ever be the same, but hopefully it will have changed for the better. Hygiene in public places is improving, people seem to appreciate the need for increased personal cleanliness, and taking one's temperature has become part of the morning ritual. As I type we are on the way to being certified "Sars free", although 30 patients and staff from a psychiatric hospital are under observation. Shopping malls have started filling up again, probably due to all the sales. However business people and tourists are still staying away - please come back, Singapore needs you!
Bee, Singapore

The news explodes every hour, even every second. How many people may have been exposed to the SARS virus and will be home quarantined; what will be the next SARS-infected district? However, the news is now the immense pressure in my daily life.
Ming-Cheuh Wu, Taipei, Taiwan

We live in the age of the virus, both biological and digital
Jamil Brownson, USA
We live in the age of the virus, both biological and digital. Periodically over human history, populations of specific viral and bacterial agents have exploded into plagues. Most originated in tropical regions, both ordinary flu and cold bugs can be nearly as dangerous to those with weak immune systems. Currently spring pollen mixed with flu bugs have knocked out many people in the American Mid-West much more effectively than the tornados that swept through last week.
Jamil Brownson, USA

I've left HK for 30 years and I didn't miss it much but after this outbreak of Sars, I feel so proud that I was born in that civilised ex-British colony. Compared with China and Taiwan, I should say the HK citizens are much less ignorant and their medical personnel are the most unselfish of all.
MC Lau, Paris, France

I believe this Sars virus is a threat to everyone. I feel every government should put in place measures to ensure the safety of their citizens. Each person should also watch out .Kudos to the international community for the quick reaction to this. A stitch in time saves nine.
Temmy Felix, Lagos, Nigeria

I am a British citizen and have spent the last year here in Taiwan. I am wondering what will happen when I return to the UK from Taiwan in August. Will I be quarantined? For how long?
Miss Kidd, Taiwan

Time magazine recently reported that last year, in the US alone, 288 people died of the West Nile virus. Without TV coverage, this went unnoticed. Sars is frightening, and a global threat, so naturally it affects all of us. But let us not be alarmist and xenophobic, and afraid to leave our homes. The consequences of that kind of behaviour may be far more dangerous than Sars.
Grace Townsend, Boston, USA

If people wear masks and keep up good hygiene, they should be OK
Chantal Louw, Taipei, Taiwan
The Sars outbreak has been blown out of proportion pushing those who are affected by "less serious" diseases such as malaria onto the sidelines.
Sha Tin, Hong Kong

Yes, Sars is serious, but I think that many people are overreacting, especially those in China who have started rioting in quarantine buildings. If people wear masks and keep up good hygiene, they should be OK. Here in Taiwan people who live near hospitals which have had Sars patients are shunned and avoided. Just living near such a hospital does not mean that person will automatically catch it! I think people should become more rational.
Chantal Louw, Taipei, Taiwan

I am proud that my country, Vietnam, has succeeded in stopping Sars spreading. That is the result of a highly responsible job by the MoH. Since the beginning the government has showed resolve and taken stringent measures for the struggle against the disease. I think that it might be an experience for other countries. Let our world be cleansed from this horrible epidemic.
Thang Nguyen, Hanoi

I was asked by my sister in Taiwan on 3 May to send home as many respirators for medical personnel as possible because China forbade WHO from helping Taiwan's efforts in fighting Sars, and there was a shortage of masks in hospitals there. What kind of humanitarian organisation is WHO?? More like a political apparatus to me.

As we already know exactly what type of virus this is, a corona virus like those that cause colds, we should know some basic things to do in case we catch it. It will, no doubt, eventually reach all countries - so remember to keep your feet warm, etc.
Kevin Kirby, San Francisco

We are being educated on the social responsibility each one of us has to play
RJ, Singapore
The spread of the virus is creating a social stigma everywhere. Imagine if someone coughs or sneezes without covering his or her mouth with a piece of tissue, everyone will be so nerved by that person. However if we put ourselves in that person's shoes, we will feel awkward and shunned. On the other hand, each of us should be more responsible for our own health as well as others. Right now in Singapore, we are being educated on the social responsibility each one of us has to play, so as to create a worry-free society. I think countries infected should take on this view too so that life can go on as normal.
RJ, Singapore

I had planned to return to my homeland, Singapore, for holiday this summer. But the trip had to be cancelled due to the outbreak of Sars in the country. I won't be seeing my family and friends until the next summer. And that sucks.
Kim, USA

Yes, the pool in my apartment complex has been shut down due to Sars fears. Apart from putting on a kilo or two from lack of exercise it is life as normal for this Australian expat.
Bo Han, Shanghai

People are really overreacting here
Dew, Hong Kong
I'm living here in Hong Kong, and under the influence of Sars too. Everybody wears masks on the street, no matter where and how you cough, people will then stare at you. People are really overreacting here.
Dew, Hong Kong

Overpopulated cities or countries such as Beijing in China run a high risk of contracting Sars. This is due to overcrowding and people are constantly breathing or contracting other people's illnesses. If you wish to travel at the present time then choose a destination that isn't crowed.
Karissa, Australia

I am very happy how my country is dealing with the issue. The US has taken a very quick and common sense approach to keeping the virus at bay. We have a long history of containing and eradicating disease, and think that other nations should see us as a model for doing that. I do like to go to Chinatown once a week for Sunday morning brunch but have not recently, however. The virus is contained here now and think I will go back soon.
Jim, Hoboken, USA

I would like to ask Jim of Hoboken what the US has done to contain the virus? And why aren't other countries doing the same. I personally know of five people who in the last five months have had severe respiratory problems following a cold. One was hospitalised ,all were diagnosed as acute viral pneumonias not one of them knows the name of the virus that caused it. They were all fit non-smokers. According to WHO the US has had probable cases of SARS.I wonder if it is more widespread than people think.
Kirsty Smith, New Orleans USA

There remains a high possibility here of the invasion of the deadly Sars virus
M Watanabe, Osaka, Japan
We have just passed a period of incubation of 12 days. We have been awfully worried about the infection of Sars, because my son studying in Beijing returned here on April 24th. We have had the good fortune to defuse the dangerous situation. However, we have to take a commuting train coming from an international airport. There remains a high possibility here of the invasion of the deadly Sars virus.
M Watanabe, Osaka, Japan

Sars is a deadly disease. It should be contained immediately otherwise it will destroy the majority of people in Asia.
J Mahadevan, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

Last weekend I had my overdue eye test, the optometrist was Chinese/Australian. How did I feel when she was examining my eyes? Fear - because she was close to me, then guilt - for letting Sars affect my behaviour, and finally embarrassment- when she whispered in my ear "I am Sars-free."
Carnik Moses, NSW, Australia

My mother is trapped in her house and is unable to buy masks or disinfectant
Sabine, London, England
I was due to visit my mother who lives permanently in Beijing. She kept telling me everything was fine up until it became evident that there was a serious problem. She is now trapped in her house in a poorer area where there are no foreigners. She is unable to buy masks or disinfectant. I am sending her supplies by post. Food prices have gone up threefold. The advice given on TV broadcast by the government is then being ignored. Workers in tourist areas are being told not to wear masks because it may worry the tourists! The feeling among the people of Beijing is that they cannot believe anything the government tells them. Many people are very angry.
Sabine, London, England

This whole Sars thing is being blown way out of proportion. This is the new thing the media is using to scare people into watching the news. A lot more people die from other terrible diseases every day, but that doesn't get on the news. People need to stop worrying about Sars and focus on what really affects them (like war, terrorism, the economy, etc). Sars should be the least of our worries.
Keith Backer, New York, USA

Our Minister of Health, Mr Clement went to Geneva to assure WHO that Toronto is safe and to have the advisory lifted. At the outset of the Sars crisis in Toronto, Minister Clement demonstrated on TV how exactly one should wash their hands. Meanwhile children attending publicly funded schools in Toronto do not even have the facilities to wash their hands. My children go to Nativity of our Lord Catholic School, there are 600 students and only 2 sinks!
Murielle Boudreau, Toronto, Canada

This requires sacrifices both from individuals as well as from whole states
Michael Dietz, Singapore
Stringent measures as seen for example in Vietnam and Singapore are the only way to grasp the possibly last chance of getting rid of the Sars virus for good. This requires sacrifices both from individuals as well as from whole states. In this connection it makes me sad to see that the travel advisory for Toronto has been lifted after only one week. It seems to me that the WHO is bending to political pressure. In my opinion this is not the way to fight a deadly virus. If the organisation continues to be prone to political pressure we might soon see the same devastating effects globally that can currently be experienced in China, a country which only reluctantly fought the virus in the beginning due to political reasons.
Michael Dietz, Singapore

We live in Beijing and while the authorities were slow to react to the initial issue, we wonder if the international media has been too quick to criticise the authorities' slow response because of the geopolitical position of China.
Pamela Collett and Jim Lindsay, Beijing Foreign Studies University

Whilst travelling to work on the train in Toronto, a passenger coughed, and all the other passengers got up and rushed for the other compartment!!! Everyone is edgy here!
Kay, Canada

The virus has started affecting my life as a Taiwanese temporarily residing in the UK (I am on contract with a university here as a researcher). When I came home from work tonight, two teenagers shouted "Sars" at me, and made me start to worry about possible racist attacks on Oriental people. I am very disappointed by the racist attitudes shown by some British people.
DL, Taiwan/UK

We have to fight collectively to defuse the spread of Sars
Rahul Puri, Singapore
The stringent measures adopted here have been phenomenal. Singapore's policy of 'isolation and containment' seems to be paying off now as the number of new cases are on the decline. We students at the National University of Singapore are subjected to daily mandatory health checks and health screenings are carried out at major public places. The international community, barring China, has acted correctly and we have to fight collectively to defuse the spread of Sars even if it means changing your daily habits according to the precautions issued.
Rahul Puri, Singapore

It's so sad, Aids still has no cure, yet another disease comes out. WHO must act now, otherwise this world will become empty.
Mike Catignas, Philippines

After travelling with my children through Toronto airport three times in two weeks, despite all the media coverage, I was surprised to find there was no screening process and, reassuringly, NO panic among airport/airline staff. However, we took personal measures, wearing masks and cancelling plans to stay in the down town areas. The mixed messages that we were receiving from Canada and the UK made it very difficult to decide what to do. With so much confusion about travelling, screening and subsequent isolation, surely consistent guidelines are necessary to avoid confusion and panic.
Kathy Fardell, England

By simply being careful I think the risk of catching Sars is very low
Tomm, Hong Kong
I have been on 15 flights in China/Hong Kong during April. Early on, masks were not seen and no checks were carried out. On my last trip, all passengers had masks and I had my temperature taken repeatedly, even by the hotel in Shanghai before I could check in. By simply being careful, wearing a mask in crowded environments and cleansing hands continually with alcohol-based lotions, I think the risk of catching Sars is very low. Taxis are far riskier. Regardless, my office in Beijing is of course closed for now as a precaution.
Tomm, Hong Kong

I work in the hospitality industry in Toronto, and I have to say Britain has been a major part of the problem with blowing the Sars issue in Toronto all out of proportion. One would assume that because Britain has been through serious problems like BSE that they would not be so quick to exaggerate another country's situation.
Gregor Shaw, Canada

The reaction from the UK Government has been very disappointing. There are no checks on flights arriving from areas affected by Sars. This seems irresponsible bordering on negligent, given how easy it is for just one person to start an outbreak as witnessed in Hong Kong.
Dr M. Baker, UK

I am most concerned about healthcare workers and those who treat patients with Sars. It must be extremely stressful for their families and friends. I wish governments learn a lesson from Sars: To never let their guard down and protect medical workers adequately.
A Di Meglio, Canada

It will take a long time for the city of Toronto to shake its label of "plague city" from the minds of potential travellers. The problem is that the media and the consumers of the media feed on death, devastation and destruction much faster and ferociously than good news. Let's hope that the lifting of the WHO's travel warning is spread as quickly as the news of the ban. If not, the economic repercussions will be felt by the entire country.
A. Esvelt, Canada

We are torn between protecting our family and completing the adoption
Nicoal Holt, UK
We were planning to go to Beijing in a couple of weeks to adopt a Chinese baby. We are now torn between protecting our family including a three-year-old daughter and completing the adoption. The media have made it hard to make objective decisions as they have generated a climate of fear that is probably not justified.
Nicoal Holt, UK

I don't think Sars is so serious, just think about how many people die because of all different kinds of reasons everyday. It makes us be afraid just because we don't know so much about it.
Dana, China

I have just come back from a three-week visit to Singapore and Indonesia. On entering Bali the controls were relatively strict. We were met by airport staff, and were asked how are we feeling, had we been in contact with any Sars patients etc. However, on returning to the UK, I was amazed that no one was there to meet me! No one to question my movements across Sars-infected areas.

Here in the UK, I work for an American bank, and am forced into home quarantine for two weeks, before I am allowed to return to the office. If a bank is doing to protect its workforce (which I totally agree with) then how can the UK Government be so lax in its controls?!
Steve, England

As a citizen of Toronto, I and the people of this city are carrying on as normal. There is no panic in this city. We don't wear masks. The only panic exists outside the city due to reports that are always showing masked people in our hospitals leaving the impression that this city is in a state of fear with disease out of control. For sometime now Sars has been under control due to quarantine and the tracing of people's movements and contacts.
John Neto, Toronto, Canada

Nobody I know is worried about Sars in Toronto except one: My mother in Taiwan
SLC, Canada
I am a Taiwanese/Canadian living and working in Toronto. Within the area of my activity (downtown to midtown), I do not see any effect of Sars. The subway I take everyday is not less crowded. I haven't seen anyone wearing mask in public. Two days ago when the temperature reached 20c, downtown was packed with people. The city I see everyday is in no way resembling the image conjured by WHO's warning. Tonight I am going to a baseball game with 50,000 other people. Nobody I know is worried about Sars in Toronto except one: My mother in Taiwan.
SLC, Canada

What do we, here in Africa, got to do with Sars, especially those less privileged to travel outside Africa. We can only sympathize with our fellow brothers and sisters over there, especially the children and the poor ones. God help them out this is my prayer.
King Anderson Emmy Snr, Nigerian in Ivory Coast.

Now that WHO has lifted the travel advisory to Toronto only after a mere 4 days. It goes to show that they acted too quickly and without any direct Canadian Health information. I hope ALL news organizations will plaster this info across their newscasts and start repairing the damage done to Toronto's reputation.
Verge, Toronto, Canada

The WHO has announced that SARS in Hong Kong had peaked. It's really good news for everyone in Hong Kong. But we should still keep high attention to it to prevent dust from relighting. I hope the number of new cases of SARS can jump down and our economy can fly up
John, HK

Sars-affected ASEAN nations use thermal or infrared sensors to detect passenger fever, I really doubt their practicality
Anthony Leung, Hong Kong
While Sars-affected ASEAN nations invariably use thermal or infrared sensors to detect passenger fever, I really doubt their practicality. First, a passenger may have a temperature for some other medical cause; secondly, a Sars patient doesn't have a fever during incubation period. Perhaps, people who travel from Sars hot spots should have 5- day house quarantine PRIOR TO DEPARTURE. This sounds to be more reassuring to the receiving end.
Anthony Leung, Hong Kong

I just got back from a nice vacation in Montreal, Canada. What a great city! The WHO and other organizations need to make it clear that Canada is a huge country and only one area is in question. It is irresponsible to not state clearly that other parts of Canada are clean, and thus OK to visit.
Sami Zaza, Boston, USA

Instead of worrying about the effects that this outbreak has had on businesses I think more people should consider the loss of human life. It is true that more deadly viruses are killing more than Sars but to have another one that can be easily spread is a great cause for concern. To all those people who think it is of no worry I'm sure it wasn't a worry to the government of Canada when it was only Hong Kong that was infected.
Jonathan Gronow, Wales

The media have blown this out of all proportion and should be ashamed of themselves. There are thousands of people dying every day from diseases more dangerous than Sars; HIV, TB, Malaria and Influenza for example. The media is creating a panic that is damaging economies, companies and people's lives.
Simon, England

Re: The safety of travel to Toronto, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, etc. The danger is not whether an individual who lives in or visits these cities will contract the disease. As many have stated, the probability of this happening is very low, the likelihood of death, even lower. The danger is whether an individual will spread the disease by travelling or returning home from an affected area. It is important to contain this illness for as long as possible while researchers try to discover a vaccine or a cure.

If it becomes established worldwide, it may mutate into a more virulent form and become more dangerous and harder to deal with. Perhaps governments should offer economic relief to businesses which are hard hit by the travel warnings, much like relief funds are made available to victims of natural disasters.
Lee Ann, USA

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