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Vietnam Travel Warning

Issued by US Department of State

Apr 25, 2003

This Travel Warning is being updated to inform U.S. citizens to the Department of State's continued concerns about the presence of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome or SARS like symptoms in Vietnam. The Department of State has now authorized the departure, on a voluntary basis, of non-emergency personnel at the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi and the Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City. Family members of Embassy and Consulate General staff had earlier been given this option, and the suspension of non-essential official travel to Vietnam remains in effect. These decisions are based on the lack of adequate medical care and facilities, as well as the difficulty of securing commercial medical evacuation for SARS patients. The Department of State continues to recommend U.S. citizens defer non-essential travel to Vietnam and that U.S. citizens in Vietnam consider departing. This supersedes the March 22, 2003, Travel Warning.

Although the Department of State has recommended that arrangements be made for prompt medical evacuation of individuals diagnosed with SARS, medical evacuation of SARS patients remains problematic. Securing transport and locating a destination willing to accept such patients is difficult, if not impossible. Even if a willing air carrier and host destination are found, the cost would be prohibitive. Since medical evacuation possibilities may change, family members of SARS patients may wish to consult with the nearest U.S. Embassy/Consulate General for the latest information. SARS has dramatically diminished the level of medical services in Hanoi. Hanoi's only adequate hospital facility has closed and Hanoi's two main outpatient facilities have reduced their operations. Even non-lethal medical conditions are difficult to address because clinics are making initial assessments by phone or screening patients outside the clinic facilities. Until medical services return to normal, it is recommended that all U.S. citizens traveling defer non-essential travel to Vietnam.

Because of these continuing concerns about the presence of SARS in Vietnam, the Department of State now authorizes non-emergency employees of the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi and the U.S. Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City to depart voluntarily from Vietnam; previously only family members had been given the option to depart. For the most up-to-date information regarding SARS, U.S. citizens are advised to monitor the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's website, www.cdc.gov, and the World Health Organization's website, www.who.int/ith.

Both the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi and the Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City remain open to provide the full range of services to U.S. citizens and the general public.

The Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi is located at 6 Ngoc Khanh, Ba Dinh District, telephone number (84-4) 831-4590; after hours emergency telephone number (84-4) 772-1500; fax (84-4) 831-4578. Additional information may be found on the Embassy website at http://usembassy.state.gov.vietnam/.

The U.S. Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City is located at 4 Le Duan, District 1, telephone (84-8) 822-9433; fax (84-8) 822-9434; website www.uscongenhcmc.org.

For further information on travel to Vietnam, U.S. citizens should also consult the Department of State's Consular Information Sheet for Vietnam and the Public Announcement on SARS, both of which are located at http://travel.state.gov.

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