Canadian health officials noted that there have been no new infections in Toronto besides health care workers, suggesting that efforts at containment are largely succeeding.
Elsewhere, a WHO official in India said 19 "confirmed" SARS cases in that country had been identified using an unreliable test, and that India might be SARS-free. If so, that would be a relief to health authorities who fear a major outbreak in countries with high population densities and poor health care systems.
In China, Beijing officials began moving victims of severe acute respiratory syndrome into a hastily constructed hospital, while millions of people throughout the country stayed home for the May Day holiday in an effort to limit the disease's spread.
As stringent efforts continued around the world to control the disease, Hong Kong officials reported some troubling new information, suggesting that people who have recovered from SARS can continue to spread the virus in feces and urine.
The WHO reported a total of 5,865 SARS cases and 391 deaths as of yesterday. Those figures included 187 new cases in China and 11 in Hong Kong, the lowest daily increase in Hong Kong since early March. The United States has 52 probable SARS cases and no deaths.
The two new cases in Toronto brought the total number in the city to 264 and the number of deaths to 23.
"We believe that Canada is doing the right things and they should have no further setbacks," said Dr. David L. Heymann, the WHO spokesman for the conference.
Another WHO official said the outbreak in Toronto might have been avoided if the WHO had issued an alert about the disease sooner.
In an article prepared for a Canadian medical journal, Dr. Guenael Rodier, WHO's director for communicable disease and response, said, "Had our international vigilance been in place prior to March 12, Toronto would very likely have been spared a SARS outbreak on the scale it has worked so admirably to contain."
SARS has infected more than 3,600 people in China and killed 170 people there since the outbreak began in the country's Guangdong province late last year. "China now accounts for more probable cases than the rest of the world combined," according to a WHO statement issued yesterday.
In an effort to control the spread, China cut its "Golden Week" holiday to a long weekend, and issued stern warnings to discourage urban residents from heading home to the more isolated provinces.