Wed, 30 Apr 2003

Traveling to SARS-affected areas

Dear Dr. Donya,

More than one year ago I sent you an e-mail about my child's toeing outwards. She's well on her way to having "good feet".

I am writing for a different, unrelated reason and would appreciate a few words. The following question is out of your domain, however, I'm trying to make a decision and am "asking around".

We live in Jakarta but presently, I'm in Calgary, Canada and have been asked to do a mining property evaluation in Yunnan province, southern China. I'm a geologist. My wife and my mother are terrified that I should go there due to the SARS situation.

Based on what you have heard in "your neck of the woods" (Bali: tourist gossip), would you go there if you were asked to go by an important client whom you would rather not refuse. Would you hesitate? Strongly recommend a delay? Would you outright refuse to go? I'm a bit worried that by saying no, I will "look bad". I have mentioned my concerns to the client (who has no children to leave behind) but the answer I get is "just wash your hands".

Your comments would be appreciated. This is a tough call and I certainly won't "hold you to it". In fact, I recently canceled my flight home, via Hong Kong, until the SARS issue develops. In Canada there are companies refusing to open shipments from China!

-- Glenn

Dear Glenn,

My recommendation is you delay your trip for two weeks because in two weeks we should have a stronger idea of what will happen in China. This is new, consequently, it is causing a lot of panic. If you cannot postpone your trip, the best care is to keep yourself fit and healthy, get plenty of rest, take vitamin C -- 1,000 grams a day -- always wash your hands and even wear a mask on the plane and while you are traveling. Good luck.

-- Dr. Donya