Q: What is SARS?
SARS stands for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. It's a new communicable disease that's become a global health threat. This is the first time this illness has appeared, so it is being treated with extra caution by health officials. Worldwide 1,408 people have been infected with SARS.
Q: How is SARS spread?
SARS is a spread through close contact with an infected person. Close contact means coming into contact with an infected person's respiratory fluids (through coughing or sneezing) or coming in contact with an infected person's saliva. There are no cases of SARS spread through casual contact with an infected person.
Q: What are the symptoms?
A fever over 38 C (100.4 F) AND cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing
AND close contact with someone diagnosed with SARS The respiratory symptoms appear two to seven days after exposure.
Q: What should I do if I have these symptoms?
You should call Toronto Public Health at 416-338-7600.
Q: What should I do if I have these symptoms?
You should call Toronto Public Health at 416-338-7600
Q: What if I have only some of these symptoms?
You should stay at home until the symptoms disappear.
Q: Can you die from SARS?
SARS has proven fatal in some cases, though often in older patients. So far three people in Toronto have died of SARS. As of March 27, there are 28 probable and 10 suspected cases of SARS in the city. The province of Ontario has declared a health emergency in Toronto because of SARS, but the general public is at very low risk.
Q: Have Centennial students and staff been quarantined?
Students and staff in clinical placement at Scarborough Grace Hospital have been
asked to voluntarily quarantine themselves (asked to stay at home) for ten days as a preventative measure. All were healthy at time of quarantine. The quarantined individuals were also on campus since attending work at the hospital but, it is very unlikely that they were a risk to anyone on campus. Across Toronto thousands of individuals have voluntarily quarantined themselves.
Q: Why have so many people been quarantined?
Toronto Public Health wants to draw a wide circle around the infection to stop its spread. People are being quarantined not because they have SARS but because they MAY have been infected and the spread needs to be controlled.
Q: Were any of the quarantined Centennial students living in residence?
Q: Have any members of the Centennial community become infected?
We are not aware of any at this time.
Q: What precautions should I take?
You should take extra care to wash your hands frequently with hot soapy water. Make sure all hand surfaces are cleaned and try to get under your nails. If you have a cold or feel generally unwell, don't come to work or class. If you want to wear a mask, you may but it is not necessary unless you have been quarantined. If you decide to wear a mask, make sure it is a proper surgical one available at your local pharmacy. Sanding masks available at hardware stores are not sufficient.
Q: I'm afraid to come to school. Should I be?
It is very unlikely members of the Centennial community have been exposed to SARS. We will continue our work and classes as normal. If the situation changes, in conjunction with Public Health officials we will make decisions with the health and well-being of our community utmost in our minds.
Q: Some international students come from countries where there have been reported SARS cases. Should I be concerned about being around them?
We have contacted Public Health for advice on this issue. We have been told to continue to make the Centennial College community, including our international students aware of the SARS concern. We have been instructed that we need to take no other steps. None of our international students have been quarantined or have become infected. They should be treated like any other student.
Q: Someone coughed and sneezed near me. What should I do?
It is unlikely a student at school is infected with SARS. The first symptom is a sudden and high fever that is quite debilitating. However, if you are concerned that droplets from the student came in contact with you, leave the room and wash your hands thoroughly.
Q: Can SARS live on work surfaces?
It is believed that SARS is a virus and can remain alive on work surfaces for some period of time, though more needs to be known. If you are concerned about using keyboards and other shared surfaces you may want to wipe them down with alcohol before use.
Q: What should people with prior respiratory problems or who have weak immune systems do?
If you are ill, on chemotherapy or have a depressed immune system for any other reason, you should consult your family doctor or specialist and follow their advice.
Q: The situation is changing rapidly. Where can I get reliable up-to-the-minute information?
Don't rely on e-mails sent by friends, other students or relatives. Often such communications can spread poor information and harmful rumours. To get good, timely information call Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000. Or, check the Toronto Public Health Web site at www.toronto.ca/health.