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SARS Hits HP Canadian Office

The vendor sent home about 200 workers from a Toronto-area office after an employee who exhibited symptoms of the disease ignored calls to stay home
Hewlett-Packard has sent home approximately 200 workers from a Toronto-area office after an employee exhibiting symptoms of SARS, the mysterious severe acute respiratory syndrome, ignored Canadian health officials' call to remain in quarantine.

It's the first known instance in which a North American technology operation has been affected by SARS. In Asia, particularly Hong Kong and China, tech companies have closed offices, limited travel, and asked some employees to work from their homes.

Analysts have also warned that SARS could disrupt supply chains in the IT industry, which relies on Asian manufacturers for a wide range of electronics and technology components.

According to reports in the "Toronto Star," an employee in HP's Markham information technology facility continued to come to work even after warned to stay away. As a result, the region's health director sent 197 other workers into isolation.

People suspected of SARS infection are generally placed in quarantine for 10 days, the considered limit of SARS's incubation.