Travel restrictions to Japan not needed, U.N. orgs say

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The World Health Organization is not recommending travel restrictions to Japan, the organization said over the weekend.

The WHO said travelers should avoid travel to the areas most affected by the earthquake and tsunami because of disruptions to infrastructure.

In a FAQ on nuclear-radiation concerns, it said that only people directly involved in the emergency response near the plant who weren’t decontaminated properly would pose a health risk to others.

"Travelers returning from Japan who have come from the 20-kilometer evacuation zone surrounding the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant and who have undergone proper screening and decontamination procedures, and travelers from all other areas, do not pose a radioactive health risk to others and do not require screening," it said.

Information from five United Nations organizations, including the WHO, International Civil Aviation Organization and International Maritime Organization, led those groups to conclude that flight and maritime operations can continue "normally" into and out of Japan, excluding regions affected by the tsunami.

Screening for radiation of international passengers from Japan is not considered necessary at this time, the organizations said in a joint statement. ICAO, the IMO and the WHO were joined in the statement by the International Atomic Energy Agency and the World Meteorological Organization.

The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol is not currently scanning individual passengers arriving in the U.S.  from Japan, although radiation detection equipment has been installed at airports and seaports, it said. But cargo and mail arriving from Japan is being scanned at seaports and international mail facilities, it said.  

IATA on Saturday said it welcomed the joint statement from the five organizations.

"Today’s joint statement by the five most authoritative United Nations organizations on air transport, nuclear energy, shipping, health and weather confirms that it is safe to operate in Japan," said IATA Director General Giovanni Bisignani. "Today the advice is that normal operations are possible. If the advice changes, the industry will comply and transparently keep all informed of the developments."

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