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RE: Toronto --Government Reaction

Just to show the government's escalating response, I understand this is only 
state response, however there is fallout....


Toronto-Area Pilgrims Stay From Mass.

.c The Associated Press 

STOCKBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) - Concerns about the SARS virus have prompted a 
religious order to tell hundreds of Toronto-area pilgrims to stay away from 
an annual outdoor Mass scheduled for Sunday.

Massachusetts' chief epidemiologist, who recommended the move, said similar 
notices may follow for sporting and other events attracting large tour groups 
from Toronto, which has more reported cases of severe acute respiratory 
syndrome than any area outside of Asia.

``It's difficult, but everybody is trying to do the right thing,'' Dr. Alfred 
DeMaria said Thursday. ``We haven't been approached by any other group, but 
this might be the first of more restrictions.''

The Marian Fathers had been expecting more than 450 people from the Toronto 
area for its special Mass at the Shrine of Divine Mercy in the Berkshire 
Hills. The annual ceremony draws more than 20,000 people.

DeMaria said state health officials had told the religious order that if the 
Toronto pilgrims attended the Mass, they would be questioned, screened, given 
warning cards and perhaps segregated from the rest of the congregation.

The religious order's initial news release and the notice posted on its Web 
site said all Canadians were being asked to not attend. However, Marians 
spokeswoman Kathleen Ervin said the notice was intended to apply only to 
Toronto-area pilgrims.

Any arriving at the Sunday Mass ``would be requested to leave,'' she said.

``It was a very difficult decision to make and not taken lightly,'' she said, 
adding the Marians had also consulted with Canadian health officials and the 
Archbishop of Toronto. A telephone message left at the archdiocese was not 
immediately returned.

``Obviously, we are sorry to hear that,'' said Lisa Carrier, a spokeswoman 
for the Canadian consul general's office in Boston. ``Certainly Canada 
understands precautions need to be taken.''

The World Health Organization, in an action strongly protested by Canadian 
officials, has warned people to avoid unnecessary trips to Toronto.

That warning is stronger than the travel alert issued by the U.S. Centers for 
Disease Control and Prevention, which has urged Americans not to visit Hong 
Kong and China. For those traveling to Toronto, the CDC suggests only that 
they avoid health care facilities and monitor their health following their 

Telephone messages seeking comment from the CDC about the religious order's 
decision were not immediately returned.

The celebration at the shrine caused particular concern, DeMaria said, 
because it comes at a time when information about the illness, with early 
symptoms that can mimic a common cold, is just being developed.
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