Curtail Travel to Mexico: Remember SARS

In response to the current outbreak of deadly swine flu in Mexico, Air Canada and most major US airlines have waived penalties for cancelling or changing reservations on flights to Mexico. This means that if you have booked travel to that beleaguered country, you can still change your plans without penalty.

My recommendation is: do it. Considering the rampant drug-related violence that has become a part of the Mexican landscape, you should have been careful about committing yourself to travel there in the first place.

We don’t yet know how virulent the strain of swine flu is that has been brought into Canada and the United States, but we are only at the beginning of this potentially vicious cycle. It is time for us to remember SARS and how it began.

And though you have heard that most of the swine flu in Mexico is concentrated about its capital city, the fact that there have already been thousands who have been infected and diagnosed and more than 150 deaths as of the end of April means its reach must have spread across this crowded country, where good sanitation is not universal.

It is only a matter of time before the resort areas on the Pacific and Gulf of Mexico coasts will be affected. It’s no fun drinking margaritas through surgical masks.

Consider also the hassle you will have to go through getting back into Canada after reporting that you are returning from Mexico.

The European Union has already issued a warning to its citizens against any non-essential travel to the US and Mexico. Because numerous cases are now being reported in Canada, the possibility exists, therefore, that you may also be under scrutiny if trying to enter any of the European countries. So check out your travel plans and by all means buy travel insurance before you leave home in case you are stricken and need services while abroad.

Both the US and Canadian governments have issued formal warnings against travelling to Mexico. Travel insurance purchased prior to such notification should cover trip cancellation and medical emergency benefits—but insurance purchased after government warnings have been issued will likely not cover any interruptions or cancellations.

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