Travel Health Information
World Health Organisation indicates no rationale for travel restrictions
The World Health Organisation is not currently recommending travel restrictions related to the outbreak of the swine influenza A(h2N1) virus. Today, international travel moves rapidly, with large numbers of individuals visiting various parts of the world. Limiting travel and imposing travel restrictions would have very little effect on stopping the virus from spreading, but would be highly disruptive to the global community.
"Influenza A(h2N1) has already been confirmed in many parts of the world. The focus now is on minimizing the impact of the virus through the rapid identification of cases and providing patients with appropriate medical care, rather than on stopping its spread internationally. Furthermore, although identifying the signs and symptoms of influenza in travellers can be an effective monitoring technique, it is not effective in reducing the spread of influenza as the virus can be transmitted from person to person before the onset of symptoms. Scientific research based on mathematical modelling indicates that restricting travel will be of limited or no benefit in stopping the spread of disease. Historical records of previous influenza pandemics, as well as experience with SARS, have validated this point.
Travellers can protect themselves and others by following simple recommendations related to travel aimed at preventing the spread of infection. Individuals who are ill should delay travel plans and returning travellers who fall ill should seek appropriate medical care. These recommendations are prudent measures which can limit the spread of many communicable diseases and not only influenza A(h2N1)."(World Health Organisation web-site).
University recommendations for staff intending to travel:
Prior to overseas travel, travellers must check the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) website www.dfat.gov.au/travel/ for current information and warnings. A DFAT warning may have insurance implications, such as full insurance cover may not be available and additional safety precautions may be required. Where DFAT advises that threats to Australians are high or warns against travel to the planned destination, staff travelling on University business must seek advice from the Director, Facilities Management & Services. Prior written approval from the Vice-Chancellor will be required for travel to destinations with this type of DFAT warning. (SCU Travel and Entertainment Policy).
In addition to the above, the following guidelines should be followed:
- The University recommends that staff reconsider their need to travel to Mexico. If intending to travel to Mexico, advice should be sought from Mr Steve McFarlane HR Manager, Workplace Health and Safety;
- Staff and students are advised not to travel to any overseas destination if they are currently ill or have a raised temperature;
- The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) states that vaccination against seasonal influenza two weeks prior to travel is still recommended, although the degree of protection against this new influenza strain known as h2N1 09 (Human Swine Influenza) is not clear. Consult your health care provider for travel medical advice and further guidance if you have specific concerns;
- Seek medical advice if you plan to travel with a pre-existing condition in the light of the potential impact of Swine Influenza on this condition;
- Keep a close watch on DFAT travel advice for the country(ies) you are visiting. For USA, Canada and Mexico, DFAT has included reference to the risk of Swine Influenza. Other countries are likely to be included over time;
- Keep abreast of the local situation in the country(ies) you are visiting;
- Develop contingency plans for your return to Australia in the event the alert should change globally or locally; and
- Maintain contact with your supervisor and advise if there is to be a change in your travel plans.
While you are travelling:
Travellers in affected countries and regions should:
- Practice hand hygiene (washing and drying of hands);
- Practice respiratory etiquette (covering mouth and nose when sneezing and coughing); and
- Consult a doctor or the nearest hospital immediately if you develop flu-like symptoms.
Students, staff and visitors arriving from overseas
The University will continue to rely on quarantine screening measures in place at Australian ports of entry in terms of the identification of potential illness in arriving students, staff returning from international travel and international visitors until further notice.
If you have visited Mexico, the United States or Canada since March and are unwell with a respiratory illness (fever and cough) on your return to Australia, contact your GP by telephone. Let them know that you have travelled to a country or region affected by swine influenza.
What to do if you have recently travelled overseas and are experiencing flu like symptoms
If you have travelled overseas in the last 7 to 10 days AND you are experiencing flu like symptoms you should consult your doctor immediately and advise them of your recent travels. Also see Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing website "Advice for Returning Travellers".
Useful sources of information
- Public Fact Sheet on looking after yourself in an influenza pandemic (pdf)
- Australian Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing - Swine Influenza Outbreak
- Victorian Government Health Information - Current Health Alerts
- Australian Government Smart Traveller
- World Health Organisation (WHO)
- DFAT specific country advice:
Updated: 08 October 2012