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University Lifts Toronto, Vietnam Travel

By Hera A. Abbasi, CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Following the World Health Organization’s (WHO) lead, the University declared yesterday that its travel ban to the SARS affected regions of Toronto, Canada and Vietnam has been lifted.

At the same time, the University imposed a moratorium on travel to Taiwan, citing the country’s increase in the number of SARS cases from 37 to 78 in the past week.

The lifting of the travel ban could result in grant distribution to students whose travel funds were withheld due to SARS, according to Deirdre Chetham, executive director of The Harvard University Asia Center.

“At the moment the WHO advisory has been lifted and we expect the State Department advisory to be changed,” she said. “Once that’s lifted we expect funds to be available.”

But some students who had originally planned to travel to Vietnam have already changed their plans or have been denied grant money as a result of SARS.

Minnie Quach ’03, who planned to go to Vietnam to teach, was denied two public service grants.

“I suspect that’s part of the reason that I don’t have funding,” she said. “Fellowships I applied to are definitely going to other people.”

Quach said though she may still travel to Vietnam, she has registered for classes at the Graduate School of Education and may volunteer at Phillips Brooks House or go to Europe instead.

Hoang-Oanh T. Nguyen ’04 said she knows several people whose plans to travel to Vietnam were affected by SARS.

Nguyen, who is waiting to hear whether or not she was accepted as a United Nations intern in Hanoi, said she was not too concerned about SARS even before the ban was lifted.

“The situation in Vietnam was looking pretty good already,” she said. “If the internship was in China, I’m not sure if still would have gone.”

Vietnam was removed from the WHO’s list of countries with cases of SARS transmission on Monday after almost three weeks with no new cases of the virus.

“The absence of any new cases for a continuous 20-day period is an encouraging indicator that appropriate detection and protection measures...are able to contain outbreaks” according a WHO press release.

The WHO also lifted its travel advisory for Toronto, saying the city’s SARS situation had improved.

Despite the lifting of the ban to Toronto and Vietnam, the University cautioned students to “observe precautions” when traveling to these areas.

Last week’s University ban on travel to other nations affected by SARS , including mainland China, Hong Kong and Singapore, still remains in effect.

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