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TORONTO - The World Health Organization took Toronto off its list of SARS-affected areas yesterday, the second time it has done so, prompting hopes that the city's nightmare with the deadly respiratory disease is finally over after nearly 400 cases and 39 deaths.

Ontario's Health Ministry said Toronto would remain vigilant in its fight against the virus. Health officials had thought they had ended the outbreak in May, but it resurfaced.

"We're not out of the woods yet," a spokeswoman for the Health Ministry said. "It is likely we are going to have deal with this disease for some time."

Eleven people are still in critical condition, but there have been no new cases of severe acute respiratory syndrome since June 12 in and around Toronto, the only place outside Asia where the virus has claimed lives.

Toronto's first outbreak of SARS started in mid-March and lasted until early May. In the middle of that month, the city was taken off the WHO's SARS-affected list, but health officials let down their guard in hospitals where the virus still lingered.


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