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Medical workers in protective gear talk with a woman suspected of being ill with a coronavirus at a community health station in Wuhan in central China's Hubei Province, on Jan. 27, 2020.

The Associated Press

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Keep calm and …

Re During A Public-health Crisis, We Need Good Information That Is Clearly Communicated (Jan. 27): As a family doctor who was in practice during the SARS outbreak, I well remember the chaotic communications that added unnecessarily to the stress and uncertainty we experienced at the time.

We were inundated with bulletins from the Ontario Ministry of Health, Toronto Public Health, the Ontario Medical Association and the College of Family Physicians of Canada, among others. These various bulletins contained information that was frequently similar, redundant or contradictory, making it difficult to know which advice to follow.

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As this new coronavirus situation unfolds, I strongly suggest all relevant parties who need to communicate with us be on the same page. Literally.

Deborah Kestenbaum MDCM, CCFP; Toronto

I handled communications for a major international airline during the 2003 SARS crisis. I’m remembering long, torturous conference calls where more than a few people said that no matter how much we sanitized the tray tables and seat backs and allowed flight staff to wear masks, if people intent on intercontinental travel were allowed to board planes while ill, the virus could spread among individuals sitting ever so closely together in a contained metal tube. And if governments did not support the research needed to learn more about how such viruses arise and spread from animals to people and from person to person, a crisis worse than that of SARS could very easily happen again.

May this present crisis not make my memories of SARS look mild in comparison.

Mary Stanik St. Paul, Minn.

I am tired of reading how "prepared” Canada is for the new coronavirus. Last week, I returned on a Shanghai flight to Toronto and was met with a fail-safe, virus-eradicating, impossible-to-bypass security measure: a question on a computer screen.

“Have you been to Wuhan in the last 14 days?”

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“Uh, no.”

That’s it.

If Canadian officials suspect someone is smuggling in extra handbags or a watch, they check their phone and sift through their entire luggage. But land from a country with a possible viral epidemic? It seems like the honour system and a question amounting to, “Did you eat the last cookie?”

Pierre Bernhardt Waterloo, Ont.

Amid the frenzy of speculation and fear-mongering inspired by the new coronavirus, can we please have some attention to an infectious illness that actually poses a significant present-day threat to Canadians? The flu is killing people in this country every day and, if this is an average year, will account for 3,500 deaths.

Much of this could be alleviated if more people would get the flu shot. But perhaps that’s not news.

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John McLeod Toronto

Extra, extra

Re U.S. Refusal To Extradite Woman Involved In Fatal Crash ‘Denial Of Justice’: U.K. (Jan. 25): If the United States refuses to honour its responsibility to extradite one of its citizens, how can it expect allies such as Canada to extradite someone like Meng Wanzhou?

Robert Tittler Montreal

Back to the future

Re What Is The Conservative Future? (Editorial, Jan. 27): I don’t believe the Conservative Party of Canada needs to be saved by Stephen Harper or by electing a leader focused strictly on social conservative values.

I believe what the Conservatives need is a return to the practical conservatism and Red Tory social policies that were practised so successfully by the likes of Bill Davis and Brian Mulroney. And I believe Peter MacKay has the credentials to be that leader and to appeal to the broader base of women and young people who won’t vote Conservative in its current iteration.

Paul Clarry Aurora, Ont.

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Peter MacKay? I’m pleased to see that the Conservative Party of Canada seems poised to once again choose a perfect candidate to lead the party into the wilderness.

Ken Cory Oshawa, Ont.

Nothing but a G thing

Re Ottawa Is Undermining The 5G Revolution (Jan. 27): We should take a big step back and completely reconsider the need for 5G technology.

At this point, an “ultrafast” network is only theoretical. In practice, a new network would likely be a more modest affair and offer marginal improvements to a minority of people. And for that, we must invest billions of dollars and have new infrastructure on every street corner? Who will end up paying for that? Likely not Bell, Rogers or Telus.

Fifth generation seems like technology for technology’s sake, like the fear of missing out gone wild. It would be better to allow poorer people to share more equally in the benefits of the excellent 4G system we already have.

Luke Mastin Toronto

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Assessing assessment

Re How To Fix Outcomes For STEM-savvy Migrants (Report on Business, Jan. 17): When it comes to Canadian engineering regulators using competency-based assessment to review applications, there are actually four organizations, including the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta, that have implemented their own systems.

Meanwhile, Engineers Canada has co-developed a national online system with Engineers and Geoscientists BC. This system is in use in British Columbia, PEI and Saskatchewan, with three other regulators preparing to roll it out. In every case, the competency framework was adapted from a pan-Canadian one, with the aim of improving mobility for engineers working within Canada.

The Association of Science and Engineering Technology Professionals of Alberta, as highlighted by contributor Janet Lane, should be congratulated for the excellent work they are doing in the area of competency-based assessment, and for contributing to the effort to ensure internationally educated engineering graduates have multiple pathways to achieving a fulfilling career in Canada.

Gerard McDonald CEO, Engineers Canada; Ottawa

As good as new

Re Ottawa-funded Institute For Climate Policy Launches (Jan. 22): The new Canadian Institute for Climate Choices seems badly needed, since Canada has so far missed every target for greenhouse-gas emission reductions it has ever set. But why did we need yet another new organization to conduct such arm’s-length expert assessments?

If such assessments were to be carried out in almost any other country, that nation’s long-established senior national academy would have been tasked with this mission. But not in Canada, even though we have had the Royal Society of Canada since 1882, which has demonstrated many times that it can successfully discharge such assignments. One wonders.

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William Leiss OC, FRSC, emeritus professor, Queen’s University; Hamilton

Show them the money

Re Harry, Meghan’s ‘Sussex Royal’ Brand Hits Snags (Jan. 25): Might I suggest Harry and Meghan trademark $u$$ex Royal?

William O’Meara Toronto

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