May 14, 2003

Acting Medical Officer of Health declares SARS outbreak over in York Region


NEWMARKET Ė York Regionís Acting Commissioner of York Region Health Services and Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Hanif Kassam, has declared the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak in York Region over. More than two 10-day incubation periods of the last probable case of SARS in York Region has passed with no new cases reported.

"This is good news for our community and our health care system," said Dr. Hanif Kassam. "The SARS health emergency placed great strains on us all. We have emerged from this serious health emergency as well as we have because of the efforts of our entire community, and the leadership of the Province."

York Region Health Services activated a heightened level of response to SARS on March 26th. This action supported the announcement that Ontario had characterized SARS as a health emergency in the province.

"It is also important to state that our SARS work is not yet over," said Dr. Kassam. "Our health care system is in recovery mode and we must maintain vigilance as it is possible sporadic cases of SARS may yet occur."

Currently one SARS patient remains in York Region hospital and no one is under home quarantine. York Region has had a total of 52 probable cases (including five deaths) and 32 suspect cases of SARS. At the peak of the outbreak on April 6th, there were approximately 5,000 residents under home quarantine. Over 22,000 calls were received about SARS on the Regionís Health Connection line.

The Regionís SARS Assessment Clinic is scheduled to officially close at the end of business day today. A total of 1,151 people were assessed at the Markham Clinic since it opened on April 1st .

As well, the Regionís Emergency Operations Centres will be ceasing operation after today.

Anyone who suspects they may have SARS is asked to visit their local hospital emergency department or call their family physician in advance of a visit.

As with any infectious illness, to prevent further spread, the public is asked to keep in mind the following:

  • Wash hands thoroughly and frequently
  • Get immunized
  • Stay home if ill to encourage recovery and to prevent spread
  • Keep a good distance from anyone who is coughing and/or sneezing
  • Avoid touching the soiled tissue and other personal articles of those who are unwell

For information about SARS or any health-related topic, visit or call York Region Health Services Health Connection at 1-800-361-5653. The telephone hotline has now returned to its regular operating hours of 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday.

Attached is todayís York Region SARS Statistical Update

Contact: Patrick Casey, Corporate Communications Services, York Region

-(905) 830-4444 or (416) 297-9696, ext. 1235

-(905) 715-8211 (Cell)


The Regional Municipality of York is committed to providing cost-effective, quality services that respond to the needs of our rapidly growing communities.  York Region is comprised of the following nine area municipalities:  Aurora, East Gwillimbury, Georgina, King, Markham, Newmarket, Richmond Hill, Vaughan and Whitchurch-Stouffville.  For more information, visit our Web site at:

Contact: Patrick Casey, Senior Media Relations Specialist, York Region

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