When feeling sick, just don't travel

1 May 2009

With confirmed swine flu cases in the US now put at 130 at press time, Americans like the rest of the world are asking: “Is it safe to fly (to and around the country)?”

US government officials had to do some damage control yesterday when Vice-President Joe Biden said he would discourage family members from taking a plane or riding the subway. He was referring to Mexico, the hardest hit by the infection, aides said.

Transportation secretary Ray LaHood had to be called in to reassure an already jittery public, stating: "It is safe to fly. There is no reason to cancel flights…all modes of transportation are safe in America.”

But travellers should also heed common sense. “If you’re ill, you shouldn’t get on an airplane or any public transport. If you’re sick, stay home,” said CDC’s (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Dr Anne Schuchat, who admitted she had been talking herself hoarse these past days, reiterating the advice.

It’s the same line doctors give their patients during winter when regular flu kills 36,000 Americans each year.

On the debate whether washing hands or using alcohol-based hands is best, it’s washing thoroughly enough that should be the real issue, stressed Dr. Richard Besser, acting chief of the CDC.

He keeps hand gel handy for between-washings but also suggested that people sing Happy Birthday as they wash their hands to make sure they've washed long enough to get rid of germs.

Margie T Logarta and the wires

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