Emergencies preparedness, response


27 November 2009

Is it safe to travel?

Yes. But if you are ill, it is prudent to delay travel.

WHO is not recommending travel restrictions related to pandemic (H1N1) 2009.

The pandemic influenza virus has already spread around the world. There is no scientific reason to delay international travel to reduce spread of infection. The global public health response now focuses on minimizing the impact of the virus through prevention measures, more equitable access to appropriate medical care, and help to countries as they prepare and implement their public health plans.

Scientific research based on mathematical modelling shows that restricting travel would be of limited or no benefit in stopping the spread of disease. Historical records of previous influenza pandemics, as well as experience with SARS, validate this.

Returning travellers who become ill should contact their health care provider.

Does WHO recommend screenings at country entry and exit points to detect if ill people are travelling?

No. WHO does not believe entry and exit screenings would work to reduce the spread of this disease. However country-level measures to respond to a public health risk are the decision of national authorities, under the International Health Regulations 2005.

Countries that adopt measures that significantly interfere with international traffic (e.g. delaying an airplane passenger for more than 24 hours, or refusing country entry or departure to a traveller) must provide WHO with the public health reasoning and evidence for their actions. WHO will follow up with all of its Member countries on such matters.

Travellers should always be treated with dignity and respect for their human rights.

How can I protect myself from pandemic influenza when I am travelling?

Travellers can protect themselves and others by following simple prevention practices that apply while travelling and in daily life. Keep your distance from someone who is coughing and sneezing. Cover your coughs and sneezes. Wash your hands with soap and water, and avoid touching your eyes and mouth as much as possible. And again, do not travel if you are ill.

(updated from 7 May 2009 and 1 May 2009 versions)

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