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May 2003 Vol. 29, No. 5   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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How SARS Can Ruin Your Dive Trip ... Even If You Donít Have It

from the May, 2003 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Affecting more than 3,300 persons worldwide, including the people in the U.S., this flu-like viral illness is adversely affecting dive travel.

The captain of the MV Koon, a liveaboard out of Phuket, Thailand, refused fellow diver Tom M., of Los Angeles, when he arrived on April 10. He mentioned that he had spent two days in Taiwan on the way over, so the owner told him that he couldn't board even though he had paid in advance. Another local operator, Scuba Cat, arranged a boat for him.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has advised that people with SARS-like symptoms -- fever greater than 100.4oF, dry cough, sore throat, and joint pain -- or even those who may have been exposed, should be kept off airplanes. International airports in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, and Thailand have self-reporting and body temperature screenings. Should either turn up positive, the traveler will be shuttled off for evaluation and possible quarantine. Airlines, including Singapore Airways and Cathay Pacific, have reduced Asian flight schedules and started disinfecting aircraft and passing out free protective masks.

If you're traveling through Hong Kong, Taiwan, Ontario, Singapore, Thailand, or Vietnam, you might check with your intended liveaboard to ensure you won't be denied permission to board.

-- Doc Vikingo

P.S.: One odd side benefit of SARS is that it's benefiting reef fish. The New York Times reports that restaurants in Hong Kong -- big buyers of live Australian reef fish, especially from the Great Barrier Reef -- halted purchases in March when diners started staying home. The restaurants have bought few since, and fish prices have collapsed, causing fishermen to stop fishing. Coral trout, a species of cod speckled with blue spots and in beautiful shades of red, pink, and brown, are the biggest beneficiaries.

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