Canada: It’s catching

Canada: It’s catching
: The SARS panic is about to get out of hand. Conventions in Toronto are canceled (well, OK, if you fear that nobody’s going to come and you’re going to lose a fortune). Kids’ sports games are canceled. Catholic pilgrims are disinvited from a U.S. even. But here’s my favorite: the Washington Post cancels a meeting with Toronto Star execs.

Paul Gallo, manager of the Star’s editorial computer systems, said he received a call “really late” from Post executive John Benner, cancelling the meeting.

“He left a message, sounding really embarrassed and apologizing, to say the tour of the facility couldn’t take place,” Gallo said from Washington yesterday.

Gallo … said Benner told him that he’d been instructed “by his executive editor that the tour wouldn’t be a good idea for liability reasons. He explained that, if anybody at the Post were to get ill after our visit, there’d be liability implications.”

And the National Post sends a reporter to the WHO in Geneva:

The hotel desk clerk quickly stepped two paces back yesterday when I told her I was from Toronto. “SARS,” she blurted, and for a split second she covered her face with her hands. I wasn’t sure if the gesture meant she was embarrassed, or if she was trying to protect herself.

Perhaps she thought that I might infect her. Kill her.

So I asked. “Are you afraid of me?”

“Yes,” she replied.