Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization have issued guidelines to help organizers of meetings and events attended by people from countries most affected by the outbreak of SARS limit their liability and protect their attendees.
According to the CDC's Web site, "At this time, CDC does not recommend canceling or postponing classes, meetings, or other gatherings that will include persons traveling to the United States from areas with SARS. CDC is working closely with WHO and other partners as part of acollaboration to address the SARS outbreak.
"The following are interim recommendations to assist persons who are organizing gatherings. These recommendations are based on the experience in the U.S. to date and may be revised as more information about the SARS situation in the United States and globally becomes available.
"If organization representatives become aware of a person from an area with SARS who develops fever or respiratory symptoms, the following steps should be taken:
1. Exclude the ill person from activities (e.g., classes, meetings, and other public areas) and locate him/her in a separate area to minimize contact with other people while awaiting further medical evaluation.
2. Alert appropriate healthcare personnel that an individual from an area with SARS requires evaluation, so that advance preparations can be made to implement infection control procedures to prevent transmission to others during transport and in the healthcare setting.
3. Remind the treating healthcare provider to notify the appropriate state or local health officials if SARS is suspected."
For more from the CDC, click here.
The World Health Organization has also issued guidelines for hosting events attended by people arriving from an area with recent local transmission of SARS. According to its Web site: "Over the past few weeks, the enormous amount of information now available on SARS and the increasing awareness of the general public of SARS may have led to irrational behavior and the exclusion of people coming from an area with recent local transmission of SARS.
"According to the information now available, only persons with symptoms are contagious and can transmit the disease, and close contact is required for transmission. Close contact means having cared for, lived with, or had direct contact with respiratory secretions or body fluids of a suspect or probable case of SARS."
For WHO recommendations, click here.