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U-M cancels or postpones international programs in areas of SARS risk

The University is canceling or postponing selected overseas educational programs until at least June 1 in countries at high risk for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and is urging faculty, students and staff to leave the affected countries. The message was issued to the campus April 4 by Paul N. Courant, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, and Lazar Greenfield, interim executive vice president for medical affairs at the U-M Health System (UMHS).

"The threat posed by SARS is serious, and we need to be thoughtful and vigilant in taking steps to protect our campus community," Courant said. "On a campus as large and cosmopolitan as the U-M, it is vital that we be prudent and prepared.

"I recognize that the measures outlined above may disrupt the plans of individuals and groups on campus. However, given that our knowledge about SARS is still incomplete, these steps are fully warranted."
“On a campus as large and cosmopolitan as the U-M, it is vital that we be prudent and prepared.”
—Provost Paul N. Courant

The warning applies to travel and programs in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Vietnam and Toronto. The Asian countries are identified as "travel advisory areas" by the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), while Toronto has experienced an outbreak of SARS that led to the introduction of strong public health measures there.

Program cancellations will be in effect until June 1 and will be reevaluated regularly. Decisions regarding cancellations or postponements will continue to take into account travel advisories issued by the CDC.

The following additional measures are being undertaken:

• The UMHS Emergency Department and inpatient facilities have implemented CDC recommendations for identifying individuals at risk for SARS to prevent the ill person from infecting others and to protect health care personnel. Similarly, the University Health Service, which provides outpatient health care services for the University community, has implemented its protocol for identifying high-risk people and appropriately isolating them during evaluation. The risk factors for infection are recent travel to a high-risk area or exposure to a person who has SARS. Early symptoms may include muscle aches and malaise. The clinical findings of SARS include fever higher than 100.5 degrees, cough and shortness of breath, low oxygen in the blood, and changes on X-ray

• Contingency plans are in place for isolating SARS patients and their contacts on campus. Planning is being coordinated among the University Health Service, UMHS and the Washtenaw County Health Department.

• A University committee of faculty experts in public health and infectious diseases, and administrators responsible for academic and student services, has been convened. It will track SARS developments continuously, recommend strategies and keep the campus informed. For more information about SARS,

visit the following Web sites:

• the CDC, http://www.cdc.gov

• the UMHS, http://www.med.umich.edu

• the World Health Organization, http://www.who.int/en/

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