Yes. WHO is not recommending travel restrictions related to the outbreak of the influenza A(H1N1) virus. Today, global travel is commonplace and large numbers of people move around the world for business and leisure. Limiting travel and imposing travel restrictions would have very little effect on stopping the virus from spreading, but would be highly disruptive to the global community.

Influenza A(H1N1) has already been confirmed in many parts of the world. The global response now focuses on minimizing the impact of the virus through the rapid identification of cases, and providing patients with appropriate medical care, rather than on stopping its spread internationally.

Although identifying signs and symptoms of influenza in travellers can help track the path of the outbreak, it will not reduce the spread of influenza, as the virus can be transmitted from person to person before the onset of symptoms.

Scientific research based on mathematical modelling shows that restricting travel would be of limited or no benefit in stopping the spread of disease. Historical records of previous influenza pandemics, as well as experience with SARS, validate this.

Does WHO recommend screenings at country entry and exit points to detect if ill people are travelling?

No. We do not believe entry and exit screenings would work to reduce the spread of this disease. However country-level measures to respond to a public health risk are the decision of national authorities, under the International Health Regulations 2005.

Countries that adopt measures that significantly interfere with international traffic (e.g. delaying an airplane passenger for more than 24 hours, or refusing country entry or departure to a traveller) must provide WHO with the public health reasoning and evidence for their actions. WHO will follow up with all of its Member countries on such matters.

Travellers should always be treated with dignity and respect for their human rights.

How can I protect myself from influenza A(H1N1) when I am travelling?

People who are ill should delay travel plans. Returning travellers who become ill should contact their health care provider.

Travellers can protect themselves and others by following simple prevention practices that apply while travelling and in daily life.

Originally posted on 1 May 2009