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Travel blow as virus increases

PUBLISHED: 00:00 25 April 2003 | UPDATED: 13:46 03 March 2010

A LEADING Ipswich travel operator believes the SARS virus is yet another blow to the travel industry.

Jim Easter, owner of Travel Plus Tours, admitted people are very worried about travelling to the Far East and Hong Kong.

A LEADING Ipswich travel operator believes the SARS virus is yet another blow to the travel industry.

Jim Easter, owner of Travel Plus Tours, admitted people are very worried about travelling to the Far East and Hong Kong.

He said: " People are naturally very worried as there has been so much going on in the world over the past 12 months with the War in Iraq and September 11.

"The advise to travellers has not been forthcoming and has been very vague and minimal. Confidence within the travel world and among customers is low.

"Hong Kong has taken a bit of a pasting and it is vital that people receive the correct advise before they travel.

The Department of Health and the Foreign Office issued the new warning after the World Health Organisation strengthened its own advice about the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome virus.

The worldwide SARS death toll has now reached 235, with about 4,000 cases reported overall in 25 countries.

Jan Rowsell, a spokeswoman for Ipswich Hospital, said they were prepared if a case was to arise here.

She said: "As soon as issues occur all key staff are told about them. The clinical directors make sure absolutely everyone has access to the guidance from the Department of Health and the World Health Organisation.

"We always have very detailed plans in place for every eventuality, viral infections or a particular type of disease.

"We are always vigilant and very aware of the importance of prompt and swift diagnosis of any virus or disease which could possibly be highly contagious.

"The NHS is designed to cope with this type of situation and we would follow the necessary procedures to safeguard patients wellbeing and that of the rest of the community."

The spread of the deadly SARS virus has led the Government to warn Britons against travelling to Toronto, Hong Kong and the Chinese provinces of Guangdong, Beijing and Shanxi.

Scientists today said they feared the virus was constantly changing and evading attempts to find a cure for it.

Experts have said it could take months or even years to develop a vaccine.

SARS stands for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. The first reports of an infection followed the death of a US businessman in a Hong Kong hospital in mid-March.

The virus is believed to have originated in China's southern Guangdong province in November, and was spread around the world by air travellers in February.

People can carry SARS for up to 10 days without knowing because the symptoms do not show themselves at first.

They are similar to those of flu, and include high fever, headaches, sore throat and a cough.


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