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Q&A about SARS based on questions by Berkeley's international students and scholars and the staff and faculty who work with them

Note: The University NewsCenter has a SARS resource center online. The University Health Services (Tang Center's) website has additional health-related information.

SARS resource center for campus
FAQs, guidelines, links and more

Q. I'm a continuing international student planning to visit one of these countries over the summer for vacation. Will the University quarantine me when I come back to Berkeley? Will I be able to resume my studies?

A. We recommend consulting the CDC's guidelines for travelers for the most up-to-date information about SARS travel alerts and advisories. In some areas, the CDC recommends postponing non-essential travel.

The Chancellor issued a policy on May 2, 2003, for continuing students who are traveling to Berkeley from the SARS-affected areas. Go here to read this policy. He also wrote: "The CDC includes in its definition of travel individuals on connecting flights into airports in the affected regions." You should have no problem resuming your studies. The only current requirement is to review important information about SARS Exposure Assessment and follow instructions accordingly. The campus NewsCenter website and the University Health Services website will also have information.

One more point: Take precautions. Locals where you're going will have advice.

Q. How can I obtain information about the SARS Exposure Assessment? How will I be monitored (if I need to be) by University Health Services? When should I check in with University Health Services?

A. Read the SARS Exposure Assessment and follow instructions. The campus NewsCenter website and the University Health Services website will have additional information.

Q. I'm a student (new or continuing) who will be arriving from one of the SARS-affected areas in August. Does it make a difference between being in the dorms, International House, co-ops, fraternities, sororities or off-campus regarding what I'm supposed to do?

A. For now, the University recommends following instructions carefully on the SARS Exposure Assessment and Information for Visiting or Returning from a SARS-Affected area sites. Pay close attention to the signs and symptoms of SARS and what to do if they develop. The campus NewsCenter website and the University Health Services website will have additional information.

One more point: Until you arrive in Berkeley, take precautions. You may want to consult the CDC's guidelines.

Q. How will the University enforce these requirements for people coming from SARS-affected areas?

A. The University is currently counting on the understanding, goodwill, and personal responsibility of those who travel to and from SARS-affected countries. So far, the requirements have no specific enforcements; rather, they are voluntary. The Chancellor, in answer to the question, "UC Berkeley has such close ties to these countries. Are you concerned these restrictions could chill our relationships with these regions?" said, "I think people understand the need to contain the spread of this disease. Our friends and alumni will clearly understand. I'm sure they are concerned about it as well."

Q. Who pays for the Tang Center monitoring, and if I have SARS and need care?

A. Any health care or monitoring due to SARS will fall under the standard health insurance coverage you hold (e.g. Student Health Insurance Plan).

Q. If I'm traveling from one of the affected areas, will I be quarantined at the airport when I arrive?

A. Currently the U.S. is not quarantining any arrivals at ports of entry. The Cathay Pacific and Lufthansa airline websites, in their information on SARS, provide information on what the practice is at airports around the world.

Q. I'm a visiting international scholar now at Berkeley. I plan to go to a conference in one of the SARS-affected areas where there is a travel advisory. What's the University policy?

A. The Chancellor issued a policy on May 2, 2003, for all current faculty, staff, and students -- this includes current international scholars -- who are planning to travel. Under the policy, travel to SARS-affected regions is discouraged, and University funds may not be used for travel to areas on the CDC's SARS travel advisory list unless the trip is deemed essential by the responsible Vice Chancellor. SISS' recommendation is that you discuss your plans as soon as possible with your host department and host faculty.

If your UC-sponsored travel plans are deemed "essential" or if you decide to go on your own, please take precautions. Locals where you're going will have advice. You may also want to consult the CDC's guidelines for travelers. Upon your return, you will be asked to monitor yourself for signs and symptoms of SARS.

Q. I'm an international student (or scholar) and I'll be traveling this summer — not to one of these areas, but my flight plans include stops in the affected areas with layovers ranging from 50 minutes to four hours. Should I change my flight, if I can, so that I don't stop in one of these areas?

A. The Chancellor has indicated, in his memo above, that the University is following CDC guidelines, which include "individuals on connecting flights into airports in the affected regions." Therefore, if you do stop in one of the affected areas, even for a short time and never leave the airport, you will be subject to the same requirements as students (or scholars) who have actually been in one of the affected areas. Carefully following instructions on the SARS Exposure Assessment, especially if you develop symptoms. Many airlines have liberal policies around changing flights due to concerns about SARS.

Q. I've heard that the U.S. is restricting — rationing or slowing down — the issuing of visas for people from those areas with a high number of SARs cases. Is that true? Is there a possibility that someone might be barred from entering the U.S.?

A. Services for International Students and Scholars (SISS) is not aware of any problems — restrictions, rationing, or slowing down — with visa processing at U.S. embassies and consulates in SARS-affected areas. Nor have we heard of anyone being barred from entering the U.S. due to SARS. If SISS learns of any such problems, we will post information on our Alerts! page as well as on the NewsCenter's SARS-resource center. We also will send a notice out to the international student listserv and to the department staff who work with visiting international scholars.

Q. I have to go back to my home in one of the SARS-affected areas in order to change immigration status. Is there any other way that I can do this? Can I go to Canada or Mexico?

A. Some countries will not issue visas to what are called "third-country nationals." In this situation, there are two things to do: (1) contact SISS to discuss your individual situation; and (2) check the website of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate you are interested in at http://travel.state.gov. Mexico and Canada are currently processing visas for third-country nationals, but if your application is denied there, you will not be allowed to return to the U.S. but will be required to return directly to your home country. This is true for a denial at any "third-country" embassy or consulate. If this changes, SISS will post a notice on the SISS travel information page.

Q. I'm coming to Berkeley in the fall on an Education Abroad Program, from a SARS-affected area. Where do I go for guidance — Berkeley or the EAP office in Santa Barbara?

A. Both! The campus will make every attempt to inform the EAP office in Santa Barbara about policies on the Berkeley campus. You can also keep up to date by checking the campus's NewsCenter and University Health Services websites.