Many of you will be very concerned about SARS,
and travelling overseas to Australia. Please note:
Australia is currently not considered
by WHO to be a SARS-infected area.
Message from J. J.
There is not any significant risk in Australia
as of now. They have good surveillance (Australia is good at public
health) and so far no real cases to my knowledge. Also no real reason
to exclude people from Taiwan, Hong Kong or even Mainland China
although it will be important for them to watch themselves for fever
and respiratory symptoms on entry and while in Australia (and anywhere
else too). They will be reminded of that on entry to Australia.
SARS is not infectious before the onset of symptoms according to
current work. Same for Toronto people. The US have been very successful
in preventing transmission here using those principles.
We are having trouble here explaining that
it really looks like SARS is not infectious until a patient gets
sick. And transmission in most countries is only from very close
direct contact, as in a family setting or from caring for a SARS
patient....and even those are rare. Australia does not seem to have
any yet, and I think your public health system would pick up a real
case quickly. Thus the statements were correct (from the perspective
of the South Carolina State Epidemiologist, myself) as of the date
I sent them and also at present. I suspect they will still be true
in June and July as well but if you were very unlucky and went the
way of Toronto early on, or Taiwan now, they might have to be changed
a little. (J. J. Gibson; personal communication used with permission;
16th May, 2003).
James Jerry Gibson, MD, MPH
State Epidemiologist and Director
Bureau of Disease Control
South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control
The Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing
has advised that the risk of contracting SARS is low.
Note that the World Health Organisation's warning
against travel to Toronto has been lifted - even though Toronto is still
listed by WHO as a "SARS-infected" area. But Australia is not
See the Australian
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for further information from
the Australian Government and WHO - in particular information about travel
to and from Australia, and issues of transit via SARS-infected countries.
I hope such material helps alleviate your concerns and helps you to plan
a safe travel itinery for ICPA.
Rest assured we will monitor the situation closely
and advise you of any serious negative developments.
We certainly hope that SARS does not lead to cancellatiopn
of ICPA. We currently expect that ICPA will continue to be held as planned
provided that delegates continue to register.
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade