SARS quarantine ending for HP workers in Canada

The SARS-related quarantine that began last Tuesday for about 200 Hewlett-Packard Co. workers began to lift yesterday as some employees were allowed to return to their jobs.

HP Canada said today that 102 HP workers and about 95 contract workers in a Toronto IT services facility now being notified on an individual basis whether they are allowed to go back to their offices. The workers were placed on in-home quarantines last week after two workers came down with symptoms produced by the SARS virus, which has been spreading around the globe (see story).

HP Canada said the quarantine is being gradually lifted by the York Region Health Services Department, which is advising HP on how to deal with the health issues.

The company was able to keep the facility open during the quarantine by using workers from other facilities and workers who weren't present when the ill employees were in the building.

SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, is a flulike illness that was first identified in humans in Vietnam in February, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), which has issued a series of alerts to track the illness. As of yesterday, 3,169 cases of SARS, including 144 deaths, have been reported to WHO from 21 countries. That's an increase of 213 cases and 25 deaths since the last WHO update on Saturday.

Symptoms of SARS include a high fever and one or more respiratory problems, including cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, according to the WHO.


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