A new and nasty enemy is on the loose. While all attention has been focused on Iraq, a killer virus has emerged in the Far East. So far it has infected more than 1,600 people and is believed to have killed 74 of them.
The United Nations’ health agency, the World Health Organisation (WHO), has strongly advised the UK public against travel to Hong Kong and the Chinese province of Guangdong, because of concerns of the rapid spread of the disease known as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome
The WHO’s infectious diseases specialist Dr David Heymann made commented: “People who are planning to travel to Hong Kong or Guangdong should consider postponing their travel until another time.”
“Because of the turbulent geo-
The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office are currently in talks with the Chief Medical Officer and have yet to reach a decision about travel advice to Hong Kong and Guangdong Province.
SARS is thought to have originated in southern China and spread quickly to
countries in the region including Hong Kong, which is particularly badly
hit, Singapore, Vietnam, Taiwan and Thailand. Cases have now also been
reported in Canada, UK Republic of Ireland France, Germany, Italy,
Switzerland and Romania.
is primarily concerned about the safety and wellbeing of travellers and is advising its members and travellers to follow this advice. Passengers travelling on package holidays to Hong Kong and Guangdong Province are entitled to a refund or an alternative holiday. Where the visits to Hong Kong and Guangdong does not form a significant part of a holiday itinerary tour operators should arrange an alternative itinerary so that the package holiday can continue largely unaffected.
Flight only passengers should get in touch with their tour operator or airline for information on possible alternatives or refunds. For health related matters contact their GP or look on the Department of Health website on www.doh.gov.uk/sars
Travellers who are away, or who have recently returned from Asia and who
develop the following: a sudden onset of fever over 38¡C and one or more
of the following respiratory symptoms (cough, sore throat, shortness of
breath, difficulty breathing) should contact a doctor.
Philippines: The Philippines authorities have imposed certain restrictions
upon visitors from Hong Kong, which may affect your clients travelling to
multi-centre destinations. The Philippines is asking all arrivals from
Hong Kong to impose a 7 days voluntary quarantine upon themselves.
FCO ADVICE The conflict in Iraq has increased the possibility of public disturbances in Morocco, as in other countries in the region; some of these could become unruly. Morocco is also one of a number of countries where there is an increased threat from international terrorism. You should keep a low profile, avoid crowds and be vigilant in public places frequented by foreigners.