U.S. checking drivers for SARS

BUFFALO, N.Y., (June 4, 2003) — U.S. border authorities are quietly on the lookout for signs of the SARS virus in travellers entering the United States from Canada.

Concern about the potential spread to the U.S. during Toronto’s first outbreak more than a month ago prompted U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer of New York to seek more involvement by the Homeland Security Department and CDC in the screening of travellers at international bridge crossings. Concern escalated earlier this week after a truck driver who commuted from Buffalo, N.Y. to Toronto over a period of several weeks was deemed as a suspect case.

U.S. Customs authorities say agents have received written training to spot signs of the severe acute respiratory syndrome virus. And anyone who tells agents they have been in or near Toronto is given a printed warning about SARS.

“We have taken steps by instructing officers to be wary of the symptoms of the illness,’ U.S. Customs spokeswoman Janet Rapaport said, “difficulty breathing, fever, that kind of thing.’

Although agents do not directly ask travellers about their health, should anyone exhibit the signs, agents would notify county health officials, she said.

–with files from CP

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