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I live in Richmond Hill, about 2 blocks from the York Central Hospital, where a SARS patient was transferred to, and subsequently died.

It just so happens that my spouse was at the hospital, for about an hour, sometime during the first few days, after the transfer of the infected patient.

Approximately 5 days later (Sunday), my wife was contacted by hospital staff, asked to confirm her prior visit, and subsequently asked to voluntarily quarantine herself, which she promptly did. The quarantine clock starts ticking from the time of the actual exposure, so that 5 of 10 day quarantine period, had already expired. The hospital employee said that someone would deliver a thermometer for temperature recording, and some masks, for wife to wear when around family members. We followed recommendations and moved her into her own bedroom. We also became more aware of washing and/or sanitizing our hands regularly.

The promised thermometer and masks did not show up that day.

My daughter attends Alexander Mackenzie Secondary School, which is directly across the street from the hospital. It is a daily occurrence for students to enter the hospital to purchase a drink or other food items, from a small cafe/cafeteria or the tuck shop both about 25 meters inside the Hospital's main entrance. My daughter had been inside the hospital with friends during the same day as my wife's visit, so we also voluntarily quarantined her.

I went off to work on the Monday morning, thinking that some of this was a little extreme, and innocently retold the story of my wife and daughter, now quarantined.

Can you imagine the response?

Keep in mind that, during these early days, no information or recommendations had been published by any of the health bodies, yet.

I survived the Monday, but by end of day, I was receiving emails from co-workers asking if it was true that my wife had been quarantined. Some of these co-workers could have stood up, and with a mildly raised voice, had the same conversation with me. I left for home that evening, wondering what the next day might bring.

The thermometer and masks had not shown up.

I returned to work on Tuesday and was promptly met by my boss, and nicely asked (told?) to work from home. I was not impressed, but in reality, I could either go home, or I could stay, and the rest of the office would not come into work. By this time, I had in my possession information from the York Central Public Health organization saying that family members of the quarantined individuals, who are not exhibiting signs of SARS/flu, are not a risk and do not need to be quarantined.

It didn't seem to matter what that communication said, because people had already decided my wife had SARS, I had SARS and they would too, if they came into contact with me. I went home to my non voluntary, “quasi” quarantine.

No signs of thermometer or masks.

Sometime late in the week, Friday I think, my wife starts getting follow up phone calls asking her if she had adhered to the quarantine procedures. The tone and attitude of each follow up call sounds less like voluntary and more like mandatory quarantine.

Still no thermometers or masks.

Saturday, the last day of quarantine and each of my 3 children have a scheduled activity requiring transportation, at overlapping times and in opposite directions, of course. I can handle 2 of the 3, but we make a household decision that my wife, displaying no flu like symptoms except perhaps “cabin” fever, will drive my one daughter to swimming lessons, drop her off at the front door, and return to collect her at the agreed upon time. She never leaves the car and interacts with no one. That's the bad news.

The good news is, Hoorah! the thermometers and masks show up, about 16 hours prior to the end of the quarantine period. As they say, better late than never! Actually, I had purchased some masks on day 1 of the quarantine and we already had a thermometer.

In reality, our quarantine period passed quite uneventfully, but it had its costs in the PITA department, as well as the economic department. My wife is an independent IT contractor who bills by the hour, no hours, no billings.

Anyway, as you may already have surmised, I'm of the opinion that in many ways, it has been blown WAY out of proportion.

My brother came to visit us, from Thunder Bay, arriving in the late afternoon of the last day of quarantine. He was shocked, that not 1 person at Pearson Airport had a mask on, that he could see. His daughter fried on him, that he would even consider the stop over in Toronto and expose himself to us, and then bring SARS home into their house.

Like any other problem or issue in our lives, a little common sense is generally the best course of action. Here it is, don't spend a lot of time with people who have flu like symptoms, wash your hands a lot, stay out of the high risk areas like doctors offices and hospitals, unless absolutely necessary.

It's either that, or live your every day life in fear. I choose not to live my life in fear.


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