Detaining sick travelers

A USA today news release reports on a controversial program to detain sick visitors by getting airlines and cruise operators to collect personal information and alert the govt to any sick ones.

The rationale is to stem the spread of the flu pandemic by quarantining sick passengers as they enter the US. While no effort should be spared to arrest the spread of a deadly outbreak, detaining passengers who exhibit symptoms of sickness is reminiscent of eugenics! Airline personnel would need to watch for signs of cold, fever, muscle aches and sore throats! Travelers could be held at the airport for 3 days or more until a full evaluation.

The news release notes –
– The proposed plan is an invasion of passenger rights. Divulging detailed personal information and travel itineraries to a visiting country will not sit well with any visitor
– People can be sick without being symptomatic and vice versa (as Tara O’Toole, director of the Center for Biosecurity at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center notes).
– Airline crews are not medically trained to look out for suspect cases.

Apart from the logistical headaches of storing data, the proposed quarantine rule raises several other issues
– Detaining anyone other than a suspected terrorist or troublemaker does not make sense.
– Tourists enter the country legally and contribute billions of dollars to the economy. The sustained efforts at inconveniencing legal visitors while giving a free rein to undocumented aliens does not bode well on the social and economic front.
– The image of America abroad is bound to take a beating. Not quite perceived as a welcoming country (since 9/11), the new draconian measure is bound to create further ill will.
– People will be discouraged from traveling abroad, fearing that they might run into problems on their return trips. Airlines will see a dip in outbound travel as well.

Surely there is a better plan to combat the pandemic than creating a detention camp for sick people at the country’s ports of entry.

Published by

Vijay Dandapani

Co-founder and president of a New York based hotel company for 24 years. Grew the firm to five hotels in Manhattan and also developed a greenfield project at MacArthur airport, New York. Speaker at numerous prestigious forums including Economy Hotels World Asia, Lodging Conference, NYU, Columbia University Real Estate Roundtable, Baruch College's Zicklin School and ALIS. President and ceo of New York City Hotel Association since January 2017.