by Michelle Boyce
June 24, 2003
Two weeks ago, I was sitting in the Toronto International Airport awaiting a friend who was arriving from Dallas along with a few hundred other people. Of course her flight was delayed so I was there for over an hour watching people getting off planes and meeting loved ones. It struck me so odd when someone came through the gate wearing a mask. Here I was with hundreds of other people and there was not a mask in sight. Yet 5 people came off planes wearing masks, and one older couple had thick gloves on as well. Oh how ridiculous they looked! Which is pretty much how the international press looks with their doomsday articles on SARS in Toronto.
Personally I have two houses. One in Toronto and the other 100 miles away, closer to Detroit, Michigan. I am a single mother of two small children; my son and myself both suffer from Asthma. I can easily stay outside of Toronto but the thought doesn't even cross my mind that my children might be at risk in Toronto. As a matter of fact we are enjoying all the benefits SARS have brought to us. Cheaper movie tickets, cheap gas, and breaks on almost all the recreational activities we do. My friend previously mention came to visit because of inexpensive airfare due to SARS. It is wonderful!
The only sign of SARS we see is driving past a hospital around the corner where they have security restricting access to the building, because hospitals are definitely at risk. All cases of SARS have been contracted in hospitals or linked back to association with the original case that came to Toronto. The second outbreak came from someone moving an infected person from one hospital to another too soon, infecting the new hospital and it's staff. Health care workers are definitely scared from SARS, with justification. It is their co-workers that are taking the blunt of the SARS contamination.
As far as the rest of us are concerned, there is no sign of SARS. To quote National Geographic "Though the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland, has lifted the ban on travel to Toronto and Hong Kong-two of the world's most notoriously SARS-stricken areas-many travelers are still avoiding both cities for fear of contracting the virus. These fears, says Traveler Editor in Chief Keith Bellows, are unfounded, perpetuated by sensational news reports." According to Statistics Canada travelers from the US visiting Ontario decreased by 5.8% between March and April.
As a part of Torcon's administration I have been accused of not taking the SARS issue seriously. Seriously there isn't anything to take seriously. I do apologize for the appalling lack of reliable reporting in the media that has caused so many people to become irrationally Toronto-phobic. If you read the local papers, the story is all economic impact from falling tourism dollars. The economic realities of SARS are causing a much greater problem for Toronto citizens than the illness ever has.
As I write this article I am packing up my family to move to Toronto for the summer. I will take advantage of all those great deals, and my kids will have a great summer vacation in the city.
Last updated: 04 July 2003
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