The World Health Organization added Toronto to its list of “hot spots” for contracting severe acute respiratory syndrome Wednesday, following a 40 percent increase in SARS cases in the Toronto area over the last two weeks, according to Time Magazine.

The Toronto area reported 136 probable cases as of Tuesday, according to the New York Times.

Canada, though, is in a much less severe situation than China, where the virus originated. The Chinese government claims that SARS has infected 1,530 and killed 67 of its citizens.

The WHO, however, questions these numbers following an inspection this week. Chinese officials hid patients infected with SARS before WHO inspectors visited hospitals in Beijing this week, according to Time.

Forty-six patients of the No. 309 People’s Liberation Army Hospital were moved to a hotel just before inspectors arrived, according to a doctor at that hospital. Two wards of SARS patients had been filled to capacity, but few were in the ward for WHO inspectors’ visit at the No. 302 People’s Liberation Army Hospital.

Thirty-one staff members at the China-Japan Friendship Hospital in Beijing who had contracted SARS from patients were taken for an ambulance ride while WHO inspectors visited to investigate the outbreak.

China’s Ministry of Central Publicity apparently dictated the “three nos” of SARS discussion – no talking to the media about SARS, no talking to the public about treating the disease and no tattling to WHO if its experts come calling, a doctor at the Shanxi Provincial People’s Hospital in Taiyuan said in a meeting, according to Time.

Information provided by Time and the New York Times. Yunis can be reached at

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