SARS impacting Tulsan's travel to and from China

Tuesday, April 22nd 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

The economic effect of SARS is devastating in Hong Kong and China. There are still no reported cases here in Oklahoma. But News on 6 reporter Heather Johnson found out, that doesn't mean we aren't feeling the impact.

It's a scene many American travelers are desperate to avoid.The CDC is warning those headed overseas to turn back, and it's a warning many Oklahomans are not taking lightly.

John Thompson with ORU: "All of our Asia teams have moved to other locations." More than 2 dozen ORU students headed for missionary work in Singapore will be making other plans.

School officials say while they feel for those in need and pray for their recovery, the students must come first. "Safety is our number one priority in determining trip location and activities, in what we'll do. Parents have entrusted us and sent their kids here to college and we take that very seriously."

SARS is affecting more than just travel plans; many local families adopt children from Southeast Asia. Now that the area faces a deadly epidemic, these families who've already connected with children have a difficult choice to make. The Williams have been waiting two long years to adopt a baby from China.

While they're not giving up on little Myka, SARS is definitely throwing a wrench in their plans. Janine Williams, "What started as a family trip to tour the birthplace of our child has diminished down to a mission. Like a military mission. We’re going over to get our daughter and coming right back." With so much uncertainty about the disease, the Williams decided better safe than sorry. “We're not afraid, but as we continue to have people continue to ask us, you're going to China? You're going to China? You start getting a little nervous."

Their other children, Michael and Alex, will be staying home, and instead of a big airport welcome home, they'll all undergo a 10-day quarantine when the baby returns. "All of the things that were going to be joyous will be put off a bit, but we're not stopping. There's no way one of us is not going to China to get our daughter Myka."

Janine says she does worry about the level of medical care in an orphanage. She’s afraid baby Myka might have been exposed to the disease. But she says they'll cross that bridge when they get there.