I read an interesting article, courtesy of The Drudge Report, and written by Reuters that indicates researchers have correlated that the recent outbreak of the H1N1 flu virus spread according to major airline routes spread around the globe.
These researchers from Saint Michael’s Hospital in Toronto correlated the geographic outbreak of the virus to the actual major airline patterns during the outbreak period. For instance, the virus initially spread from Mexico to the United States and Canada, where 80 percent of airline passengers traveled to during March and April of 2008.
This article points out that by the time health officials were able to declare a definitive outbreak, the infection had spread too far and too fast to try to mitigate its further spread. Instead, these researchers recommend that officials integrate information about current worldwide air transport traffic with global disease outbreak patterns.
For transportation and logistics professionals, one would surmise that these conclusions are a “no-brainer”. Just follow the traffic flow of people from the most impacted region. Then again, these findings also raise the questions that so many government and industry officials fear the most, namely selectively stopping air travel immediately when a potential flu threat is suspected.
There are certainly no easy answers on either side of these arguments.
What’s your view? Should government officials be allowed to suspend air travel from a suspected outbreak region of a major flu outbreak, or just continue to quarantine air passengers at points of entry of other countries?