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A Chinese woman wears a mask as she stands near the light of a police vehicle on regular duty at Beijing Railway station before the annual Spring Festival on Jan. 21, 2020.

Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

Keep your Opinions sharp and informed. Get the Opinion newsletter.

From the Comments is designed to highlight interesting and thoughtful contributions from our readers. Some comments have been edited for clarity. Everyone can read the comments but only subscribers will be able to contribute. Thank you to everyone furthering debate across our site.

Readers respond: There is a new coronavirus on the loose, but we don’t have to repeat the mistakes of SARS

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“Presumably, we won’t be complacent this time around.”

Let’s hope. However, here’s the most recent statement by the Public Health Agency of Canada: “The risk to Canadians visiting Wuhan is assessed as low.” I don’t know, that seems a little complacent, don’t you think?

The United States and other countries are thermal-scanning arriving passengers for fever and yet we are relying on passengers self-identifying via a kiosk questionnaire. What could possibly go wrong? –Tamas78


Allowing discretionary travel to and from China at a time like this is essentially saying, “We will accept the risk of innocent Canadians being infected (and possibly killed) by recent travellers, because we place a greater value on the freedom to travel than on the lives of the Canadians who might suffer.”

I have never understood that kind of thinking. –Chad Chen


If 14 health-care workers who treated a single patient picked up this infection, that strongly suggests that the patient was a “superspreader,” similar to the superspreaders who very efficiently transmitted SARS.

If there are superspreaders in this case, then the risk of a very extensive and fast-moving pandemic is probably much higher. –KCS51

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‘All those redundant teachers, education assistants and early childhood educators could retrain for the royal security detail.’ Readers debate Harry and Meghan and Ontario school strikes, plus other letters to the editor

‘Perhaps if Canadians didn’t treat the United States with such distaste, we would have a strong and loyal ally.’ Readers debate: On the world stage, has Canada been left to stand alone?

‘Meghan and Harry: If you are reading these comments, please take them to heart and stay in Britain!’ Readers debate: Can the royal couple live in Canada?

A staff member screens arriving passengers with thermal scanners at Hankou railway station in Wuhan, in China's central Hubei province on Jan. 21, 2020.

-/AFP/Getty Images

How do we know how forthcoming China has been on this? –Leese1


As I recall it, with SARS, China was in full denial mode until the problem grew enough that denial was no longer possible.

With this virus, at least publicly, it looks like China started off the same way, but that changed pretty quickly. I can’t say the country is entirely open, but it seems to have taken this seriously enough to involve outside health professionals. That’s progress over SARS. –Rationalthought


I wasn't overly worried about SARS, and I am not going to be losing sleep over this outbreak either.

While 774 dead worldwide was a tragedy, roughly 33,000 die each year in Europe alone from antibiotic resistant infections. Yet few are panicking about the potentially lethal effects of a minor wound or some chicken that was improperly cooked. –WhistlingInTheDark


Unfortunately, sneeze or cough into your sleeve has been forgotten. It was a worthwhile campaign for all ages. –jangm

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All it takes is one person to start an epidemic. A whole planeload of people can be contaminated or any public place like an airport or shopping mall. Quarantine is not very effective and it puts too many people at risk. Do not let anyone who has been travelling through this region into Canada now until the disease completely disappears. –Anne2301

A staff member looks on as he checks the body temperature of passengers at an exit of a highway in Wuhan, in China's central Hubei province on Jan. 21, 2020.

-/AFP/Getty Images

Readers respond: Canadian hospitals, airports preparing for possible arrival of SARS-like coronavirus from China

Reliance on voluntary disclosure will not work because of the inconvenience to travellers. Meanwhile in Taiwan:

1. is “monitoring the temperatures of inbound travellers when they arrive at airports and seaports” and “additional medical workers have been posted at the nation’s international gateways to support the measure.”

2. “Travellers with a fever would then be asked about their travel history and be checked by a doctor if the situation warrants.”

3. “Those found to have pneumonia-like symptoms, such as shortness of breath and low blood-oxygen levels, and who have been in China in the previous 14 days, would be placed in compulsory quarantine.” –Richard Ottawa

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China bans Canadian pork and beef without any hesitation when they had a “health concern.” We should ban Chinese visitors and flights until this is sorted out. –Candace248


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