Guam to Host CPA Candidates From SARS-Afflicted Countries

The Pacific Island of Guam is bracing for an influx of CPA candidates from Asian countries battling the SARS virus. About 2,000 candidates from Japan, Korean and Hong Kong are expected to come to the island, a U.S. territory, to take the biannual CPA exam on May 8 and 9.

Since the United States is widely thought to have the best accounting standards in the world, a U.S. CPA certification is highly sought after by Asian businesses. Many Asian CPA candidates come to Guam each year to sit for the exam, often boosting the island’s economy by more than $1,500 each during their stay.

SARS, Sudden Acute Respiratory Syndrome, has hit the Asian continent hardest and with 261 deaths reported in six countries, and some Pacific Islands are taking a tough stand on incoming travelers. Last week, neighboring Saipan banned incoming flights on the advice of its government health and immigration officials. Guam, claiming it cannot ban flights without U.S. federal government authorization, is choosing instead to welcome visitors provided they are in good health.

"We have talked with various people about this and tried to look at what the CDC has recommended and I think most of the decisions made with regards to this will be made at the airports, by the public health professionals," said Mack Ezzell, executive director of the Guam Board of Accountancy.

"I would expect anyone with anything remotely resembling the SARS symptoms will not be on the plane, so if somebody makes it here, I suppose they would seem to have been certified that they are OK."

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