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H1N1 FLU University prohibits travel to Mexico

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May 12, 2009

H1N1 FLU University prohibits travel to Mexico

Kate Dubinski
London Free Press May 11, 2009

The H1N1 flu outbreak has prompted the University of Western Ontario to prohibit non-essential university-related travel to Mexico by faculty, staff and students.

Under the ban, which went into effect Friday, students and professors are prohibited from travelling to Mexico to present papers at conferences, conduct research and take part in so-called service or experiential learning.

“We take our lead from the Middlesex-London Health Unit,” said Gitta Kulczycki, Western’s vice-president of resources and operations.

The health unit, as well as the Public Health Agency of Canada, recommend travellers postpone non-essential travel to Mexico until further notice because of the H1N1 flu, also known as the swine flu.

More than 4,500 people in 29 countries have the H1N1 flu in an outbreak that started in Mexico.

Because the regular school year has ended, Kulczycki said there aren’t many people who will be affected by the ban.

“I know we’ve had some recently returning students, and I know one student was supposed to go to a conference and has been watching the warnings carefully.”

The university will make exceptions for students, staff or faculty who must travel to Mexico for some reason, Kulczycki said.

“If a PhD student needs one more summer of research work, we would be sympathetic to that,” she said.

“A number of other universities have taken this step.”

Exemptions must be approved by the clinical director of the university’s health services, Shelagh Bantock.

Although the university wouldn’t be able to enforce the travel ban, it’s in place for the safety of everyone, Kulczycki.

“This is all about trying to keep people safe.”

There have been no special concerns or precautions taken for students, staff and faculty returning from recent travel to Mexico.

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