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SARS Cases Soar in China

CDC Offers New Travel Guidelines to Reduce SARS Risk
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In response to the continued spread of SARS in Asia, the CDC has updated its travel guidelines to help travelers protect themselves from SARS. Worldwide, 3,861 probable cases of SARS have been reported to the WHO, including 217 deaths.

The CDC and WHO already have issued travel advisories recommending that people postpone all non-essential travel to Hong Kong, mainland China, Singapore, and Hanoi, Vietnam.

If travelers decide to go through with their travel to these areas hardest hit by the SARS epidemic, the CDC advises the following precautions:

  • Assemble a travel health kit containing basic first aid and medical supplies. Be sure to include a thermometer, household disinfectant, a supply of surgical masks, disposable gloves, and alcohol-based hand rubs for hand hygiene.
  • Inform yourself and others who may be traveling with you about SARS.
  • Be sure you are up to date with all your shots, and see your healthcare provider at least four to six weeks before travel to get any additional shots or information you may need.
  • You may wish to check your health insurance plan or get additional insurance that covers medical evacuation in the event of illness.
  • Identify in-country healthcare resources in advance of your trip.

While travelers are in areas affected by SARS, they should wash hands frequently with soap and water to minimize the risk of illness. Alcohol-based hand rubs may be used as an alternative.

To minimize the possibility of SARS infection, the CDC recommends avoiding close contact with large numbers of people as much as possible. But CDC does not recommend the routine use of masks while in public areas.

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