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Friday, Oct. 24, 2014

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University lifts SARS travel moratorium, June 27

Following a new alert from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the University has lifted its moratorium on sponsored travel to Beijing and Taiwan, as the spread of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in those areas appears to have been contained.

Given the possibility that SARS could recur, as it did recently in Toronto, or reappear this coming fall or winter, as coronaviruses are known to do, the University will continue to monitor the situation closely.

On Friday, June 27, in response to a CDC update, the University downgraded Beijing and Taiwan to its list of "alert" areas, meaning community members who must travel there should be alert to a possible increased risk of SARS and observe precautions to safeguard their health.

Also on the alert list are the remaining areas of mainland China, as well as Hong Kong and Toronto. The CDC recommends that travelers to these areas avoid visiting hospitals and health care facilities caring for SARS patients. It is also suggested that travelers follow careful hand hygiene and monitor their health while in those areas and for at least 10 days after leaving there.

University community members are encouraged to regularly visit the Princeton home page for updates.

President Shirley M. Tilghman in April approved the University's travel moratorium to areas most affected by SARS, based on advice from the CDC and WHO and in consultation with University Chief Medical Officer Daniel Silverman.

In addition to the steps listed above, the University offers the following travel-related advice:

  • Any community members who are traveling to or from the alert areas should contact Dr. Peter Johnsen , the University Health Services travel medicine specialist. Dr. Johnsen can be contacted by e-mail at johnsenp@princeton.edu or by calling University Health Services at (609) 258-3141.
  • University community members planning to travel to or from any of the alert areas also are encouraged to continue monitoring the University's home page and Emergency Preparedness Web site for updates.

The symptoms and signs of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)

The illness usually begins with a fever (measured temperature greater than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or 38.0 degrees Celsius). The fever is sometimes associated with chills or other symptoms, including headache, general feeling of discomfort and body aches. Some people also experience mild respiratory symptoms at the outset. After two to seven days, SARS patients may develop a dry, nonproductive cough.

Any members of the Princeton community who have traveled to the identified geographical regions recently and are experiencing symptoms similar to those above should seek immediate medical evaluation.

Advice to travelers

The CDC has been working with the WHO since late February to investigate and confirm outbreaks of this severe form of pneumonia in various countries. The travel advice is intended to limit further international spread of SARS. The SARS situation, which is rapidly evolving, is under constant assessment by WHO in collaboration with three global networks of experts. The new advice is issued as part of a series of measures that will change as more information about SARS becomes available.

The WHO maintains a list of affected areas on its Web site. The CDC maintains a daily list of suspected cases in the United States.

For more information, the CDC has issued travel advisories and alerts about SARS. It also maintains a page of frequently asked questions about SARS.

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