HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, May 23) - To date, Guam has been spared from any cases of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, and the island's government, medical and business community are doing a good job of working together proactively to maintain that status.

This week, the Guam Medical Society recommended that the island ban entry of people coming from areas with new cases of SARS, and admit travelers from countries under World Health Organization travel advisories for SARS only if they have clearances from doctors. According to the society, the measure is necessary because of Guam's "fragile medical system," which would make it difficult to maintain quarantine areas while simultaneously treating the normal health-care load.

Gov. Felix Camacho followed suit by asking both Continental Airlines and China Airlines to limit travel from countries affected by SARS. Those airlines got on board by suspending some flights and cutting back on others.

All those involved in this type of proactive, cooperative effort are to be congratulated. Too often when community cooperation is needed, petty politics or motives of self-interest prevent it, or at least hamper efforts from reaching their full potential. In this important instance that has not been the case and kudos go to the governor, medical society, Continental and China Airlines.

And now, a similar cooperative effort is needed between the Guam Visitors Bureau and the members of the tourism industry. We need to get the word out to our Japanese market that our island is not only a safe destination, but we are continually working and implementing measures to keep it that way.

Fear of SARS has kept many Japanese from flying. By assuring them of our competence in dealing with the SARS threat and our ongoing efforts to be prepared, we can realize positive increases in visitors, a blessing for our long-beleaguered, tourism-driven economy.

The sooner we can generate more of the same type of community-oriented, cooperative and proactive effort that went into getting the flight restrictions in place, the sooner we will realize the benefits of reassured Japan-market travelers coming to Guam.

May 23, 2003

Pacific Daily News: www.guampdn.com 

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