Canada plans to scale back its airport screening for SARS, including by suspending the use of fever-detecting scanners, a World Health Organization official confirmed Wednesday.

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Health Minister Anne McLellan was expected to announce the policy shift later Wednesday, The Canadian Press reported, citing an anonymous source.

In Geneva, WHO spokesman Dick Thompson said Canada informed the U.N. agency about the changes.

“We supported their decision,” Thompson told Canadian Press. “This is a decision each country has to make about resource allocation. And without SARS circulating in humans, we have no recommendations at this time about screening.”

According to the report, screening can be reinstated within 48 hours if another outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome occurs.

The disease killed 44 people in the Toronto and sickened more than 200 others in two outbreaks earlier this year.

At one point, the WHO issued a warning against unnecessary travel to Canada, partly because the Canadian government was slow to begin screening incoming passengers for fever and other SARS symptoms.

Canada’s last new case of SARS occurred in June. The disease also stopped circulating in Asia, where it originated.

The screening program for international travelers included temperature scanners at airports in Toronto and in Vancouver, British Columbia. Health officials questioned their effectiveness, noting the scanners did not detect any SARS cases.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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