SARS Fears Prompt Action on Campus
UC Berkeley Bars Students From SARS-Affected Areas for Summer
May 6, 2003 -- In a move that underscores the fear of SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) on college campuses nationwide, the University of California at Berkeley has barred students from SARS-affected areas from attending summer classes. The protective measure comes as two new studies provide more details about how SARS is spread as well as who may face the greatest risk of serious illness from the disease.
The Berkeley campus is home to one of the nation's largest populations of students from Asia, and Chancellor Robert M. Berdahl says the university has essentially cancelled classes for students from areas on the CDC's SARS travel advisory list, including mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. So far, a total of 6,171 probable SARS cases have been reported to the World Health Organization from these areas.
Berdahl says students from these areas will be allowed to return for the fall semester, but they will be required to fill out a detailed questionnaire on the state of their health and will be monitored by health officials for 10 days upon their return.
Many American colleges and universities have cancelled study-abroad programs in SARS-affected areas in Asia, but this is believed to be the first measure to target foreign students who may import SARS from their home countries.
CDC director Julie Gerberding says she spoke with Berdahl about the decision this morning, and says she's optimistic that protective measures can be worked out on an individual basis that will allow universities and other organizations to continue to carry out their activities with SARS-affected areas.
Gerberding says UC Berkeley was expecting an unusually large contingent of students from where SARS was being actively transmitted and officials wanted some time to make sure proper systems are in place to protect other students from the risk of infection.
The CDC is also encouraging colleges to include SARS information in student orientation materials, such as symptoms of SARS and details about where students can access health services.
The CDC also announced today it is lifting its travel advisory for Singapore because no new cases of SARS have been reported in that country in 20 days. Incoming travelers from Singapore will continue to receive health alerts informing them they have recently been in an area where SARS is known to have been transmitted.
Meanwhile, no new probable cases of SARS in the U.S. have been reported to the CDC in the last 24 hours, and the agency is currently investigating 255 suspected SARS cases.
Studies Provide New Details about SARS
A new study rushed for release today in The Journal of the American Medical Association provides further details of the SARS outbreak in Toronto. As suspected, Canadian researchers report the epidemic was triggered by members of a Toronto family who had traveled to China and stayed with people who likely had SARS.