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Toronto gets Sars all-clear

Canada was one of the first countries outside China hit by Sars

The World Health Organization has removed the Canadian city of Toronto from its list of Sars danger zones.

The UN agency gave the city the all-clear after it went 20 days without reporting a new case.

The move means that Taiwan is the only remaining hotspot on the WHO list for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (Sars).

It too is likely to have its warning lifted on Saturday, if no new cases are reported before then.

Warnings against Hong Kong and Beijing were removed last month after both areas went 20 days without new cases.

"This is a great achievement for public health in what we hope is the final phase of the global emergency," the WHO said in a statement on Wednesday.

"Toronto faced an especially challenging outbreak. As we have learned, Sars is a difficult disease that produces many surprises and setbacks."


Toronto was one of the first areas to suffer from the Sars outbreak outside China, where the disease originated.

A total of 252 people in the city were infected with the disease, of whom 38 died.

It was put on the WHO travel warning list on 23 April after Sars spread to the country from China through air travellers.

This caused anger among the country's leaders, who insisted that the epidemic was under control and said the WHO had put them on the warning list for political reasons.

The ban was lifted a week later.

But following a re-emergence of the virus, Toronto was put back on the warning list.

Toronto's most recent death from Sars was a 51-year-old nurse who died on Sunday, the first Canadian health worker to die from the disease.

Worldwide, more than 800 people have died from the virus since the outbreak began.