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Canada Reports Two Fewer SARS Cases for 81

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TORONTO, June 6 (AFP) - Canadian health officials on Friday said the number of probable and suspected cases of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, dropped by two to 81 overnight, but said they were concerned about one infected health care worker.

Canada, with 31 SARS-linked deaths, is the only country outside Asia to report any deaths related to the flu-like illness, which first appeared here in early March.

All of the 70 probable and 11 suspect cases reported Friday were located in the Toronto, the epicenter of Canada's largest SARS outbreaks. Some 221 people in Ontario were also under observation as a precaution.

A suspected SARS case in British Columbia was dropped from the list compiled by the federal health agency, Health Canada.

Ontario health officials, who have been saying this week that the second SARS outbreak in Toronto -- discovered May 22 -- has been tailing off said they were looking into a health care worker who developed symptoms two days after his 10-day quarantine was over.

"It appears that the person may have been (symptomatic) beyond the 10 days, " said James Young, Ontario's commissioner for public security.

The medical trainee, who worked in the obstetrics department of Mount Sinai Hospital had apparently finished his 10-day quarantine, but a day later he became sick at work.

"World opinion still remains that 10 days is the correct time, but everyone acknowledges that there could be outlying cases slightly beyond the 10 days," Young said.

"We've taken the necessary precautions to quarantine people," Young said, adding that included the 60-strong staff and some new mothers and babies.

Meanwhile, officials removed another death of a 60-year-old, which occurred on June 1 as being SARS-related, but they added a 71-year-old man who died June 3 to the SARS-linked death toll, which remained steady at 31.

Toronto was recovering from its first outbreak, dating back to March, when a second cluster of SARS patients emerged.

That has been traced back to a 96-year-old male surgery patient, who contracted the illness before his death May 1 but unknowingly spread it to hospital workers, patients and their families.



COPYRIGHT 2003 Agence France-Presse. All rights reserved.

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