More than 2,000 people possibly exposed to the illness have been told to quarantine themselves at home for 10 days, said Dr. Colin D'Cunha, Ontario's chief medical officer of health. Precautions taken at Toronto Hospitals last month since the outbreak could not control dozens of possible new cases. Health officials conceded on monday as the WHO put Canada`s largest city back on its list of SARS - affected places.
In Toronto, health authorities scrambled to limit any further possible spread while investigating how eight probable new cases and 26 suspected cases slipped through upgraded monitoring and reaction systems designed to catch SARS. The new cases included two deaths, and another death of a patient sick for months raised the overall toll in the Toronto area to 27 from more than 150 cases in the biggest SARS outbreak outside of Asia. Toronto was removed from the WHO list of SARS-affected areas on May 14, after more than 20 days passed since the date of the last known case on April 19. The new cluster is believed to come from an elderly patient whose case dates back to April 19. The 96-year-old man developed pneumonia after surgery in an orthopedic ward at North York General Hospital. He turned out to have undiagnosed SARS and infected health care workers, other patients and visitors on the ward, officials said. A patient transferred from the orthopedic ward to St. John's Rehabilitation Hospital was considered the likely source of four more cases under investigation, they said. The outbreak prompted the U.S. Centers for Disease Control to issue a travel alert for Canada last week, a step short of advising against necessary travel there.
The WHO designation is routine for transmission of new cases of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, and a spokesman for the U.N. agency said Toronto was nowhere near another WHO warning against travel to the city. Elsewhere, the number of new cases reported in China was down to eight, while Taiwan reported 15. The health chief for Taiwan's capital resigned to take responsibility for a SARS outbreak at a hospital. Hong Kong researchers said a SARS vaccine developed with their mainland Chinese counterparts was ready for testing on animals, with results expected in six months.