Thu, May 01, 2003 - Page 3 News List

SARS epidemic: US issues travel alert to citizens visiting Taiwan

By Monique Chu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Tuesday issued an interim travel alert to US nationals to avoid visiting hospital wards caring for severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) patients during trips to Taiwan.

In view of Taiwan's increased number of cases of SARS reported to the World Health Organization (WHO), the CDC recommends that "US travelers to Taiwan observe precautions to safeguard their health ... The CDC suggests that travelers avoid visiting hospital wards caring for SARS patients."

The CDC travel alert, which informs travelers of a health concern and provides advice about specific precautions, is less serious than a travel advisory, which recommends that nonessential travel be deferred.

It's the first time that the CDC has put Taiwan on its emergency guidance for travelers in the wake of the spread of SARS across national borders.

The CDC also said that US travelers to Taiwan should "monitor their health while there and for at least 10 days after departure from Taiwan."

The CDC on the same day downgraded its travelers' notification for Vietnam from a travel advisory to a travel alert because no new cases of SARS had been reported in Vietnam since April 7 and no cases in other countries could be traced to Vietnam.

CDC travel advisories for Singapore, Hong Kong and China remained unchanged on Tuesday.

The CDC said it was working hand in hand with Taiwan's Department of Health "investigating these cases and implementing measures to limit the spread of SARS in Taiwan."

The CDC is the only outside assistance Taiwan has been receiving in combatting the disease because the country is not a member of the WHO.

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