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PATA urges accuracy and caution over `flu` advice

The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) is calling for accurate, restrained and sensible travel advice and media reporting, following the…

The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) is calling for accurate, restrained and sensible travel advice and media reporting, following the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) globally.

PATA`s policy position on SARS is that the travel industry in the Pacific Asia region should follow the official advice of the World Health Organization. However, all authorities issuing travel health advisories, and all media outlets covering the story, should be as geographically specific as possible, and not make alarmist general statements about the region.

PATA requests that all issuing authorities avoid using generic phrases such as Asia, ASEAN, Southeast Asia or Asia Pacific. Instead, advisories and media reporting should point out that outbreaks have been confined to a handful of very specific urban centres, and within those centres, the vast majority of cases, or suspected cases, have been confined to hospital care staff or family members in close contact with the infected.

The World Health Organization defines close contact as having cared for, having lived with, or having had direct contact with respiratory secretions and body fluids of a person with SARS.

On March 15, the WHO issued an emergency travel advisory which said: There is presently no recommendation for people to restrict travel to any destination.

At the same time, PATA urges local authorities in affected areas to take quick and decisive measures to contain SARS. Health and travel authorities should then inform the public of measures taken and keep them fully updated with the latest developments.

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