SARS hurts Toronto businesses

SARS is taking its toll on Chinese business owners in Toronto.

Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is taking its toll on business owners in Toronto.

Since the SARS outbreak, people have been staying away from Chinese restaurants in droves. The disease is thought to have originated in China. Health officials believe it spread to Hong Kong, and from there to Canada.

At a popular Chinatown grocery stand, the manager said business is down, because some people have linked the illness to all Chinese people. "They're scared they'll get sick," he said.

Measures taken to contain SARS are being felt throughout the city.

Thousands of people who have visited two Toronto-area hospitals or are employees at the facilities are being asked to stay home and away from work to keep the illness from spreading.

Mike Larson is a paramedic who voluntarily quarantined himself after delivering a patient to a hospital where two people died of SARS.

"I feel OK," said Larson. "It's been a long couple of days in the house... but I think it's a positive step towards keeping the public safe."

The province's security commissioner Dr. James Young says he knows health officials are asking a lot, and that the measures are having an effect on people's lives. But he says containing this illness is paramount.