The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) today lifted its final SARS travel warning, removing Beijing, locus of one of the largest outbreaks of the newly emergent Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, from the list of places where all but essential travel should be avoided.
“This is very good news and shows the great progress the world has made against SARS,” WHO Director-General Gro Harlem Brundtland said.
The decision, two months after the advisory was issued in order to minimize the international spread of SARS, followed a significant improvement in Beijing where the last new case was isolated on 29 May. As of yesterday, the Chinese capital had reported 2,521 cases and 101 deaths out of a countrywide total of 5,326 cases and 347 deaths. Worldwide there were 8,458 SARS cases and 807 deaths reported as of today.
As more than 20 days have passed since the last new case was isolated in Beijing, the city has also been removed from the list of areas with recent local transmission.
On 27 March, WHO recommended that all areas with recent local transmission should screen all international departing passengers to ensure that those who are sick with SARS or are contacts of SARS cases do not travel. As of today exit screening was still in effect for Taiwan Province and Toronto, Canada.