Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien had lunch at a Toronto Chinatown restaurant Thursday to try to ease concern about severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in Toronto's Chinese community.
"There is no danger. All the precautions have been taken. I think I wanted to set an example," Chretien told reporters before a meal of spring rolls, sweet and sour pork and barbecue duck at the Luen Fat Seafood and BBQ Restaurant.
After the meal, which cost 200 Canadian dollars (US$130) for 30 guests, Chretien walked through mounds of melting snow to shake hands with cheering onlookers.
"I think everybody should do the same thing in Toronto," said Chretien, who led a group of federal and provincial officials to the Chinese restaurant to show support for the Chinese business community.
"This is a great community in Toronto and I saw on the news that very often there is nobody in the restaurants and so on, and there is no reason for that."
Chinese-Canadian groups complain the SARS epidemic has severely reduced business in Chinatown restaurants and shops.
Most of Canada's 253 suspected SARS cases are in Toronto, where health authorities reported 11 more suspected cases Thursday.
(China Daily April 12, 2003)