Sat, May 24, 2003 - Page 3 News List

UK citizens strongly advised to avoid Taiwan

By Bill Heaney  /  STAFF REPORTER

Due to the worsening SARS situation in Taiwan, UK citizens are now "strongly advised" to avoid traveling to Taiwan following the WHO's extension of its travel advisory from Taipei to cover the whole of Taiwan.

On Wednesday, Liam Donaldson, chief medical officer for Britian's Department of Health, increased the force of his department's warning to citizens considering a trip here from an initial travel advisory issued May 8. At that time, British citizens were just "advised" against traveling to Taiwan.

British citizens should defer travel to Taiwan for the time being due to the outbreak of SARS, the health department's Web site said yesterday.

As the chief medical officer, Donaldson is the British government's principal medical adviser and the professional head of all medical staff in England.

British officials in Taipei played down the move yesterday.

"This is not a travel ban ... this is advice," British Trade and Cultural Office (BTCO) spokesman Alan Dillon told Taiwan-based Britons in an e-mail statement. "As I am aware there has been some misunderstanding."

Dillon did warn UK citizens against hospital trips.

"We continue to urge you to reconsider non-essential visits to hospitals," the statement said. "If in an emergency, you do need to go, please take all precautions to prevent any exposure to SARS."

Following the temporary closure of the Canadian Trade Office in Taipei due to a single case of SARS on May 6, the BTCO is making sure it is not caught unawares.

"We are in the process of completing contingency plans to allow us to continue to operate to some degree should we be forced into 10-day isolation," Dillon told British ex-pats in the e-mail message.

"Should we close, you will be informed of what we will or will not be able to do during the isolation," the message said.

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