Travel plans canceled

Kandace Sebastian

The outbreak of the deadly Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome is affecting summer travel for some Western students, faculty and staff.

On April 16, the Center for Disease Control issued an official travel advisory to Western’s International Study Abroad Program and Center regarding travels to Singapore and China.

Friday, Provost Barbara Burch issued an e-mail confirming the postponement and cancellation of summer study programs in the affected areas.

The university will also not fund travel to affected areas until further notice.

Burch said the confirmation was a necessary procedure to ensure the protection of staff and students planning to travel this summer.

“We have already canceled programs,” Burch said. “You never know if you have reached everybody.”

According to the CDC, SARS is a respiratory disease that has symptoms that may include a headache, an overall feeling of discomfort and body aches.

After two to seven days, SARS patients may develop a dry cough and have trouble breathing.

As of yesterday, 5,050 have been infected with SARS and 321 people have died worldwide.

The disease originated in Guangdong Province, China. The main areas infected are in China and Hong Kong.

Travel advisories have also been issued for Hong Kong, Toronto and Vietnam.

Several Western students were scheduled to travel to China through the Kentucky Institute for International Studies. As part of Western’s summer study abroad program, another group was traveling to Singapore with Robert Jefferson, dean of Gordon Ford College of Business, and professor Jerry Bennett for an International Business Management class this summer.

Nancy Martin, KIIS coordinator, said the cancellation of the China trip due to the outbreak of SARS was a big disappointment for students and faculty.

“It’s hard to cancel a program,” Martin said. “But the students’ security and health is our first concern.”

The International community on campus has also received warnings about traveling home this summer, due to the virus outbreaks.

Study abroad adviser Yating Chang is from Singapore and was planning to go there with the study abroad program this summer.

“I was looking forward to going home, but I’m pulling my plan on that,” Chang said. “When you come back, you’re not only endangering yourself but also others.”

International Programs Director Larry Caillouet said the fear of SARS has come mainly from not knowing about the disease.

“SARS burst on the scene unexpectedly and mysteriously because of some deaths,” Caillouet said. “Because of that, the whole world has been in a panic of it.”

Caillouet said he is concerned about students traveling and not being able to come back to America in the fall to attend classes.

The CDC is advising anyone planning unnecessary travel to any of the affected countries to cancel or postpone their trip.

“I think the study abroad program did the right thing,” Chang said. “We would not send students (to) places where it may endanger their personal safety.”

Reach Kandace Sebastian at [email protected]