The director of one of the World Health Organization's global network of 11 laboratories investigating SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), told The Scientist yesterday (April 10) that the new coronavirus implicated as the cause of the disease is certainly around in the environment but is unlikely to be the causative agent. Frank Plummer is director of Canada's National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg.

Canada is the Western country hardest hit by SARS, which arrived in Toronto before WHO announced its global alert on the disease March 12. It has seen 190 SARS cases, in two waves, and 11 deaths, Donald Low told The Scientist. Low is chief microbiologist at Mt Sinai Hospital, Toronto. He dealt with the first case in Canada and has just emerged from quarantine.

But according to Plummer "The proportion of our samples [from Canadian SARS patients] that show the coronavirus is going down." He said...

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