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SARS fear: Companies ban travel

By CNN Correspondent Patty Davis

Hong Kong's international airport is almost empty despite the Easter holiday.
Hong Kong's international airport is almost empty despite the Easter holiday.

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Businesses continue to ban travel to Asia because of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) illness.

Sixty-one percent are banning travel as of April 16, up from 58 percent last week, according to a survey by the Business Travel Coalition.

The group said that, "at least for now, corporate travel policy changes have stabilized" in terms of banning travel to Asia.

The biggest increase in banned travel occurred between April 1, when 27 percent of businesses were banning travel to Asia, and April 7, when 58 percent did so.

Businesses are instead relying on technology to connect with Asia. Forty-three percent are using Web conferencing, 65 percent are using teleconferencing, and 28 percent Web casting.

The Business Travel Coalition said an increasing number of companies are taking extra precautions with employees returning from Asia.

Twenty-four percent are requiring workers returning from SARS-afflicted countries to work from home for a period of time before rejoining the workforce, while 18 percent require them to obtain a medical bill of health before returning to work.

And thirty-nine percent of companies say airlines are being "only somewhat helpful; not providing sufficient information" regarding SARS.

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