WHO extends SARSrelated travel advice to Hebei province in China

As a result of ongoing assessments about outbreaks of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) today said people planning to go to Hebei province of China should consider postponing all but essential travel.The advisory, which will be reassessed regularly, adds the latest area to the agency’s list of parts of China to be avoided, including Beijing, Hong Kong, Guangdong, Inner Mongolia, Shanxi, Taipei and Tianjin. Following WHO’s initial global alerts about SARS issued in March, national authorities have heightened surveillance for suspect and probable cases. In many countries, prompt detection and isolation of initial cases have prevented further transmission altogether or held additional cases to a very small number.The agency said it based its decision to extend the ban on a careful review of information about the magnitude of the SARS outbreak in China’s Hebei province. WHO travel advice is issued to protect international public health and to reduce opportunities for further global spread.SARS is an atypical form of pneumonia first recognized in late February, that has spread along the routes of international air travel. Globally, more than 7,000 cases of SARS have been reported, with over 600 confirmed deaths, according to WHO.

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