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14 May 2003

SARS Need Not Close U.S. Doors to Visitors, Health Officials Say

(CDC urges businesses, universities to proceed with activities) (810)

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is urging
American businesses and universities not to allow severe acute
respiratory syndrome (SARS) to disrupt regular commercial and academic
activities involving international travelers.

In a May 14 press release, CDC reminds visitors coming to the United
States from SARS-affected areas to be watchful for the development of
any flu-like symptoms, but the disease prevention agency says those
travelers are still welcome to attend U.S. events.

"The United States has always been and will continue to be a country
that opens its doors to visitors from around the world. With
appropriate public health measures, we can continue the kind of
openness that characterizes our society despite this outbreak," says
CDC director Dr. Julie Gerberding.

The CDC statement comes after some U.S. universities considered
barring students from SARS-affected nations from attending classes in
the upcoming seasonal term.

CDC maintains a comprehensive page about SARS at
http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/sars/

Following is the text of the CDC press release:

(begin text)

CENTERS FOR DISEASE COTROL AND PREVENTION
Press Release
May 14, 2003

CDC calls for meeting plans involving international
visitors to continue

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today called for
businesses and universities to continue plans for meetings and events
- including college graduations - that involve travelers from areas
affected by severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). The call came as
the CDC issued new guidance aimed at assisting businesses,
universities and other organizations that have employees from affected
countries or that expect to host visitors from affected countries.

CDC does not recommend canceling or postponing plans for international
meetings or gatherings that may include persons traveling to the
United States from areas affected by SARS. Nor does CDC recommend
quarantining persons arriving from areas with SARS who have no fever
or respiratory symptoms.

CDC does recommend that all travelers arriving in the U.S. from areas
affected by SARS receive yellow health alert notices that notify them
of the importance of monitoring their health for the 10 days following
travel. Persons who develop fever, cough or who have difficulty
breathing should seek medical attention immediately.

"The United States has always been and will continue to be a country
that opens its doors to visitors from around the world. With
appropriate public health measures, we can continue the kind of
openness that characterizes our society despite this outbreak," says
CDC director Dr. Julie Gerberding. "The guidance we are releasing
today provides institutions and organizations a sound and consistent
approach to SARS prevention without stigmatizing individuals arriving
in the United States from countries affected by SARS."

In the event that a visitor from an area with SARS develops a fever or
respiratory symptoms while in the United States, CDC recommends three
specific steps:
1. Exclude the ill person from activities - such as classes, meetings
and other public areas - and locate them in a separate area to
minimize contact with other people while awaiting further medical
evaluation;
2. Alert appropriate health care personnel that an individual from an
area with SARS requires evaluation, so that advance preparations can
be made to implement infection control procedures to prevent
transmission to others during transport and in the health care
setting;
3. Remind the treating health care provider to notify the appropriate
state or local health officials if SARS is suspected. Additional
information for health care providers about the management of persons
with suspected SARS is available at
www.cdc.gov/ncidod/sars/exposuremanagement.htm.

CDC has also outlined additional actions an organization can take to
be prepared including sending basic information about SARS to meeting
participants before departure to the United States, notifying meeting
participants that persons traveling from areas with SARS with fever or
respiratory symptoms or exposure to SARS patients within 10 days prior
to scheduled departure should not travel and should seek medical
evaluation, and giving participants tools to help them monitor their
health, such as a thermometer and alcohol rubs for hand hygiene.

Casual contact with SARS patients at public gatherings has not
resulted in documented transmission in the United States.

CDC protects people's health and safety by preventing and controlling
diseases and injuries; enhances health decisions by providing credible
information on critical health issues; and promotes healthy living
through strong partnerships with local, national, and international
organizations.

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

Note to editors: To access the guidelines online and for more
information on SARS, visit the following CDC websites.

Interim Guidelines for Businesses and Other Organizations with
Employees Returning from Areas with SARS
(http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/sars/business_guidelines.htm)

Interim Guidance for Institutions or Organizations Hosting Persons
Coming to the United States from Areas with Severe Acute Respiratory
Syndrome (SARS) (http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/sars/hostingarrivals.htm)

(end text)

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)