Oct 23, 2020 • 3:56 pm CDT
Wearing Face Masks When Flying Appears Protective
'The absence of large numbers of confirmed and published in-flight transmissions of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus is encouraging but is not definitive evidence that airplane passengers are safe,' said David O Freedman, M.D. and Annelies Wilder-Smith, M.D., in a recent Journal of Travel Medicine study.
'The circumstances for robust study have been too few among the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic to know with precision the risk and factors needed to quantitate the virus's transmission under widely varying circumstances.'
'At present, based on circumstantial data, strict use of masks appears to be protective,' stated these researchers on September 25, 2020.
Oct 22, 2020 • 3:48 pm CDT
Do Not Travel Alert Issued for Burkina Faso
The US Department of State issued a Level 4, Do Not Travel, notice for the West African country of Burkina Faso on October 19, 2020. The Government of Burkina Faso has maintained a state of emergency in the entire East and Sahel regions, the provinces of Kossi and Sourou in the Boucle de Mouhoun region, the province of Kenedougou in the Hauts Bassins region, the province of Loroum in the North region, and the province of Koulpelogo in the Center-East region.
The U.S. government is unable to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens throughout most of the country, as U.S. government personnel are restricted from traveling to regions outside the capital due to security concerns. Should US citizens need assistance, the U.S. Embassy Ouagadougou is located Secteur 53, Ouaga 2000, Avenue Sembène Ousmane, Rue 15.873, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. American citizens undergoing an emergency and in need of immediate assistance outside working hours can call the Embassy's switchboard at (226) 25 49 53 00 and ask to speak with the duty officer.
The U.S. Embassy encourages citizens to continue to follow the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines for preventing COVID-19 and polio.
Oct 22, 2020 • 11:39 am CDT
Africa Reports Decreasing COVID-19 Fatalities
The number of COVID-19 related fatalities in the WHO African Region has recently decreased by 37%, with South Africa reporting 46% of these new fatalities.
In the past seven days, 14 countries recorded a decrease in new cases by 20% or above: Benin, Botswana, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Gambia, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Sao Tome, and Principe and Seychelles. Twelve countries have recorded an increase in new cases by 20% or above in the past seven days: Algeria, Angola, Burundi, Eritrea, Guinea- Bissau, Kenya, Mauritania, Niger, Rwanda, South Sudan, Togo, and Zimbabwe.
The weekly incidence in the past 7-days remained stable, increasing or decreasing by less than 20%, in 20 countries: Burkina Faso, Chad, Cabo Verde, Comoros, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Malawi, Mali, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Uganda, and Zambia, as of October 21, 2020.
The U.S. CDC recommends travelers avoid all nonessential international travel to various African countries. The CDC's Travel Alerts continues to state: 'travelers at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 should consider postponing all travel, including essential travel, to Africa.'
Oct 22, 2020 • 7:50 am CDT
New York Discourages Arizona and Maryland Visitors
New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that Arizona and Maryland have been added to the COVID-19 travel advisory. The advisory requires individuals who have traveled to New York from areas with significant community spread to quarantine for 14-days.
The quarantine applies to any person arriving from an area with a SARS-CoV-2 virus positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents over a 7-day rolling average or an area with a 10% or higher positivity rate over a 7-day rolling average.
A new study found fewer New Yorkers are dying from the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus than health experts had anticipated. This new investigation by researchers at NYU Grossman School of Medicine showed the death rate in those hospitalized in NY with coronavirus-related illness had recently dropped from 27% to about 3% points.
Oct 21, 2020 • 11:08 am CDT
Cayman Islands Confronted With Coronavirus Outbreak
The U.S. CDC issued a Level 1 Travel Alert on October 19, 2020, recommending that people who visit the Cayman Islands are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
Prospective visitors check with the Office of Foreign Affairs or Ministry of Health of the Cayman Islands or the US Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs, Country Information page for details about entry requirements and restrictions for arriving travelers, such as mandatory testing or quarantine.
Oct 21, 2020 • 10:49 am CDT
Israel Reports Avian Flu Cases
The country of Israel has reported highly pathogenic H5N8 avian flu outbreaks, according to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) on October 19, 2020. Investigators said the highly pathogenic influenza A virus likely came from contact with wild species, given that during October, about 500 million migratory birds from Europe are flying over Israel.
Isreal recently reported a similar H5N8 outbreak near the Jerusalem Zoo.
Oct 21, 2020 • 10:36 am CDT
Polio Vaccinations Suggested Prior to Visiting These Asian Countries
The U.S. CDC confirmed on October 6, 2020, polio outbreaks have been reported in the following Asian countries (map). Before traveling to these countries, adults who completed their routine polio vaccine series as children should receive a single, lifetime adult booster dose of a polio vaccine, says the CDC.
Oct 20, 2020 • 9:46 am CDT
US Passport Operation Expands Customer Service
The US Department of State confirmed on October 16, 2020, that all agencies and centers are processing passport applications. However, to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect our workforce and customers, these facilities are limiting in-person appointments at our agencies and centers to customers who are traveling internationally in the next 72 hours (3 business days) due to a life-or-death emergency.
These passport operation facilities are also offering a limited number of appointments for customers who have urgent international travel for reasons other than a life-or-death emergency.
Oct 20, 2020 • 9:37 am CDT
Digital Health Pass App Launched for Mobile Travelers
IBM Watson Health has launched a digital blockchain app called IBM Digital Health Pass on October 12, 2020, which enables individuals to store, manage, and share health status from their mobile devices. This innovative app balances the need to present health statuses, such as COVID-19 tests, and vaccine status, when traveling to international countries.
The app can use multiple data sources and will be available on Apple and Google platforms later in 2020.
Oct 20, 2020 • 6:14 am CDT
Germany's Berchtesgadener Land Locks-Down From COVID-19
A new general decree has been issued for Germany's Berchtesgadener Land regarding the recent COVID-19 outbreak that comes into force on October 20, 2020, from 2 p.m. The seven-day incidence is now 272.8 - a record in Germany.
Agriculture Minister Michaela Kaniber announced at a press conference in the Berchtesgadener Land district office: 'Leaving one's own apartment is only allowed if there are valid reasons. And unnecessary contact with other households is also prohibited.'
In addition to the district-wide exit restriction, all events in the Berchtesgadener district are prohibited, numerous shops, facilities, and public buildings must remain closed. But, citizens are allowed to go to work in other districts. However, students are not allowed to leave the district to attend class. In addition, schools and daycare centers as well as leisure facilities of all kinds and restaurants must close.
According to Bavaria's Prime Minister Markus Söder, the proximity to Austria also urges drastic measures. The Berchtesgadener district is near the border, not far from the Austrian community of Kuchl, which was completely quarantined last week.
Oct 19, 2020 • 9:35 pm CDT
1 Million Airline Passengers Screened by the TSA in One-Day
Washington D.C. based Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced it screened over 1 million passengers on October 18, 2020, representing the highest number of passengers screened at TSA checkpoints since March 17, 2020. In addition to screening one million passengers in a single day, TSA screened 6.1 million passengers at checkpoints nationwide during the week (Oct. 12 through Oct. 18).
“TSA has been diligent in our efforts to ensure checkpoints are clean, safe and healthy for frontline workers and airline passengers, implementing new protocols and deploying state-of-the-art technologies that improve security and reduce physical contact,” stated TSA Administrator David Pekoske, in a press release.
Additionally, new credential authentication devices are being installed at various airport checkpoints, enabling passengers to insert their ID directly into a card reader, eliminating the need for a TSA screening officer to touch the ID.
Oct 18, 2020 • 8:10 am CDT
'Turn Off the Lights' to Reduce Dengue Transmission
A new report published by The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene on October 15, 2020, found that the biting behavior of normally daytime active anthropophilic Ae. aegypti mosquitoes on human hosts are abnormally increased at night following exposure to artificial light at night (ALAN).
These data reveal that exposure to ALAN increases nocturnal mosquito blood-feeding behavior.
Oct 18, 2020 • 8:03 am CDT
Africa Countries Reported Excessive COVID-19 Mortality Rates
Little is known about the clinical features and outcomes of SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus infections in Africa, stated researchers on October 2, 2020. 'We conducted a retrospective cohort study of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 between March 10, 2020, and July 31, 2020, at hospitals in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
This new study published in The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene found an 'overall in-hospital COVID-19 mortality was 13.2% and almost 50% among those in an ICU.
Oct 18, 2020 • 7:39 am CDT
Hurricanes Lead to Mosquito Outbreaks
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Mosquito Control Association have collaborated to provide the first-ever comprehensive volume of resources to guide mosquito control in areas affected by natural disasters, such as hurricanes.
In this special edition published on October 13, 2020, there are real-world examples, research, and lessons learned from authors representing federal and state agencies, mosquito control programs, and health departments in Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, and Texas.
Oct 17, 2020 • 1:55 pm CDT
South Florida Cruise Lines Relaunch Delayed 60-Days
A US federal judge announced she plans to require the Carnival Corporation to certify that each of its cruise ships is compliant with its probation obligations 60-days before reentering U.S. waters to restart cruises, reported the MiamiHearald on October 16, 2020.
Previously, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced an extension of a ‘No Sail Order’ for certain cruise ships operating in US waters through October 31, 2020.
Surveillance data reported to the CDC from March through the end of September shows at least 3,600 COVID-19 or COVID-like illness cases on cruise ships in USA waters, in addition to at least 41 reported fatalities.
Oct 16, 2020 • 1:56 pm CDT
Airline Offers Rapid COVID-19 Test at the Airport
Chicago-based United Airlines became the first U.S. airline to launch a COVID-19 pilot testing program for travelers that could make it easier for them to manage quarantine requirements and entry conditions of popular destinations around the world. On October 15, 2020, United customers traveling from San Francisco International Airport to Hawaii will have the option to take a rapid test at the airport or a self-collected, mail-in test ahead of their trip.
Oct 16, 2020 • 8:47 am CDT
Hong Kong and Singapore Launch 1st 'Travel Bubble'
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China and the country of Singapore announced they will be forming a reciprocal travel bubble without a quarantine requirement, which Singapore’s Transport Minister suggests is “the first reciprocal travel bubble in the region, and maybe in the world,' reported SCMP on October 15, 2020.
Oct 16, 2020 • 8:37 am CDT
Wales Bans Most UK Visitors
Wales, a country of the United Kingdom, announced it is banning certain travelers from COVID-19 hotspots. These Regulations amend the Health Protection Regulations 2020 amendments impose restrictions effective on October 16, 2020, on persons traveling to Wales from parts of England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland which has higher rates of prevalence of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.
Oct 16, 2020 • 7:52 am CDT
COVID-19 Travel Recommendations Recently Updated
As the COVID-19 pandemic changes around the world, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to update its website listing on countries 'recommended to visit list.'
The CDC Travelers’ Health Branch provides health advice to international travelers, including advice about medications and vaccines. On this CDC webpage, you’ll find some of our most frequently asked questions and responses.
Oct 16, 2020 • 1:13 am CDT
France's State of Health Emergency Effective for 4-Weeks
The President of France has imposed a new state of health emergency related to the accelerating COVID-19 outbreak and starting October 17, 2020, local curfews will be imposed in the Paris region and 8 more cities: Grenoble, Lille, Lyon, Aix-Marseille, Saint-Etienne, Rouen, Montpellier, and Toulouse for at least 4-weeks from 9 PM to 6 AM.
Restriction in the rest of France has also been toughened with all private parties, including weddings, banned in public event spaces. Local authorities may take additional measures to prevent outbursts of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.
However, there are no health-related travel restrictions to Metropolitan France from EU Member States. For information on travel from foreign countries to the Overseas Territories, visit the website of the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs.
Oct 14, 2020 • 4:31 pm CDT
U.S. FDA Approves Ebola Treatment
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced on October 14, 2020, it has approved Inmazeb (atoltivimab, maftivimab, and odesivimab-ebgn), a mixture of (3) monoclonal antibodies, as the first FDA-approved treatment for Zaire ebolavirus (Ebola virus) infection in adult and pediatric patients.
“Today’s action demonstrates the FDA’s ongoing commitment to responding to public health threats—both domestically and abroad—on the basis of science and data,” said FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, M.D., in a press release.
“This approval was made possible because of our steadfast dedication to facilitate the development of safe and effective treatments for infectious diseases as part of our vital public health mission.”
Oct 13, 2020 • 2:13 pm CDT
China's Hajj Pilgrimage Leadership Consolidates Under One Association
According to reporting by China Daily on October 13, 2020, the China Islamic Association is taking the lead in organizing the participation of Chinese Muslims in the annual hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. The new regulation on Islamic pilgrimage affairs was jointly drafted by (8) local authorities.
During June 2020, the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah announced that only people who currently reside in the Kindom of Saudi Arabia would be permitted to make their pilgrimage due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. No similar statements have been issued for the Hajj in 2021.
Oct 13, 2020 • 9:19 am CDT
Nassau Resort Supported Bahamians in Need
As the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus first shut down The Bahamas in 2020, the Graycliff resort owner Enrico Garzaroli realized this was a long-term health crisis threatening the livelihoods of Nassau’s tourism workers, Garzaroli and Graycliff stepped up to help feed anyone struggling with unemployment, reported Barrons on October 10, 2020.
Every Friday for 10 weeks beginning in April, Graycliff distributed free meals for Nassau’s hungry.
“We gave out around 42,000 hot meals,” Garzaroli explained. "We would make sure the homeless got fed first."
The US Department of State says 'travelers to The Bahamas may experience travel prohibitions, stay at home orders, business closures, and other emergency conditions within The Bahamas due to COVID-19. Before traveling, each US traveler must go to travel.gov.bs, select “International,” and submit a Travel Health Visa Application. The application will require a negative RT PCR nasal swab COVID-19 test result.
Visit the US Embassy’s COVID-19 page for more information on the COVID-19 outbreak in The Bahamas.
Oct 13, 2020 • 8:53 am CDT
Four Diseases Impacting Millions of Africans
The World Health Organization (WHO) African Region's Weekly Bulletin published on October 11, 2020, focuses on public health emergencies occurring in 117 events in the region.
This Bulletin’s main articles cover the following events: COVID-19 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC); Cholera in Cameroon; Measles in the Central African Republic; and the ongoing Ebola virus disease outbreaks in Équateur Province of the DRC.
Oct 12, 2020 • 9:29 pm CDT
Carnival Cruise Line Cancels Florida Cruises For November 2020
Miami based Carnival Cruise Line announced on October 12, 2020, that it has notified guests and travel agents that it is canceling the remaining cruises for cruise ships operating from PortMiami and Port Canaveral for November 2020.
Additionally, Carnival stated it has also canceled cruises scheduled to operate from Sydney, Australia from January 16 - February 8, 2021.
Oct 12, 2020 • 4:05 pm CDT
Additional Polio Cases Reported
The Global Polio Eradication Initiative reported a summary of new WPV and cVDPV viruses as of October 7, 2020.
- Afghanistan: Four WPV1 cases, eight cVDPV2 cases, and two cVDPV2 positive environmental samples
- Pakistan: 14 WPV1 positive environmental samples and 10 cVDPV2 positive environmental samples
- Burkina Faso: six cVDPV2 cases
- Chad: three cVDPV2 cases
- Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo): one cVDPV2 positive environmental sample
- Egypt: one cVDPV2 positive environmental sample
- Somalia: three cVDPV2 positive environmental samples
Oct 12, 2020 • 11:44 am CDT
Oceania Confirms 1,000th Coronavirus-Related Fatality
According to the European CDC's new report published on October 12, 2020, the Oceania region has now reported 1,004 fatalities related to COVID-19 during 2020. The countries reporting the most fatalities are Australia (898), Guam (60), New Zealand (25), French Polynesia (10), and Papua New Guinea (7).
This data reflects a population-based, coronavirus fatality rate of far less than 1%.
As of October 12th, the U.S. CDC's Level 3 Travel Alert regarding Australia's COVID-19 outbreak remains active. The CDC 'recommends travelers avoid all nonessential international travel to Australia. Travelers at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 should consider postponing all travel, including essential travel, to Australia.'
Oct 12, 2020 • 6:21 am CDT
Sweden's Neighbor Issues Coronavirus Travel Warning
As SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus cases increase in many European countries, the COVID-19 case-rate was stable during the summer of 2020 in Sweden, without an extensive lockdown policy, reported the Financial Times. Many countries have criticized 'the Swedish strategy that is formed in a close partnership between the government and the society based on a mutual trust giving the responsibility to individuals,' concluded a study published on August 29, 2020.
However, Sweden's neighbor Denmark advised its citizens in October 2020, to avoid all non-essential travel to (8) Swedish regions due to an increase in the number of COVID-19 infections.
In addition to Sweden, Denmark's citizens are also being advised to avoid unnecessary travel to a large number of countries, which are listed on this SchengenVisaInfo.com webpage, as of October 9, 2020.
Oct 11, 2020 • 6:02 pm CDT
The Philippines Launches Various Vaccination Programs
On October 7, 2020, the Philippines Department of Health announced it will conduct nationwide measles, rubella, and polio supplemental immunization program. The nationwide Measles - Rubella - Oral Polio Vaccine Supplemental Immunization (MR-OPV SIA) Activity will be rolled out in 2-phases, starting October 26, 2020.
In the Philippines, an estimated 2.4M children under the age of 5 years old are susceptible to the measles virus, stated the government.
Previously, as of October 6, 2020, the U.S. CDC issued Travel Alerts regarding COVID-19, Dengue, and Polio outbreaks in the Philippines.
Oct 11, 2020 • 4:00 pm CDT
British Nationals Advised Against Non-Essential International Travel
On October 11, 2020, the UK's Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) continued to advise British nationals against all but essential international travel because of the ongoing and accelerating COVID-19 pandemic. Countries and territories that are currently 'exempt' from this advice are listed on this FCDO webpage.
And, the U.S. CDC's Level 1 Travel Alert for the UK, issued on August 6, 2020, remains active. This Alert states: the CDC recommends travelers avoid all nonessential international travel to the United Kingdom. Travelers at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 should consider postponing all travel, including essential travel, to the United Kingdom.'
Oct 8, 2020 • 11:56 am CDT
Mexico's COVID-19 Outbreak Related to Asymptomatic Close-Contacts
A new study from Mexico published on October 6, 2020, found 42% of COVID-19 patients' close contacts were infected with SARS-CoV-2 but exhibited few symptoms. The average of contacts infected with SARS-CoV-2 by index COVID-19 case was 4.3.
This finding suggests COVID-19 asymptomatic patients could become an important cause of the continued spreading of the new coronavirus.
Mexico is in phase #3 of the COVID-19 pandemic and since the first reported case on February 28, 2020, the Mexican government increased measures to contain the spread of the virus. These measures have included social distancing, closing schools, the obligatory use of mouth masks, and canceling massive events, among others.
As of August 6, 2020, the U.S. CDC recommended 'travelers avoid all nonessential international travel to Mexico. Travelers at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 should consider postponing all travel, including essential travel, to Mexico.'
Oct 8, 2020 • 11:22 am CDT
Peru Purchased Mismatched Coronavirus Antibody Test
The South American nation of Peru has been relying heavily on rapid antibody blood tests to diagnose active COVID-19 cases, a purpose for which they are not designed, reported The Associated Press on October 7, 2020. The tests cannot detect early COVID-19 infections, making it hard to quickly identify and isolate the sick.
Epidemiologists interviewed by The AP say the test misuse is producing a sizable number of false positives and negatives test results, helping fuel one of the world’s worst COVID-19 outbreaks.
As of August 6, 2020, the U.S. CDC recommends travelers avoid all nonessential international travel to Peru. Travelers at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 should consider postponing all travel, including essential travel, to Peru.
Oct 6, 2020 • 6:58 pm CDT
Vietnam Reports Diphtheria Outbreak
Health officials in Vietnam have reported an outbreak of diphtheria in the Central Highlands region. In response to the outbreak, the Vietnam Ministry of Health has launched a vaccination campaign for affected provinces and implemented several measures to help prevent and control the spread of the disease. Diphtheria is a bacterial disease that causes respiratory tract and skin infections says the U.S. CDC.
To notify international travelers, the CDC issued a Level 1 Travel Alert on October 6, 2020, which recommends diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (whooping cough) vaccination for everyone, especially people traveling to parts of the world where diphtheria vaccines are not used routinely.
In the USA, diphtheria vaccines are combination vaccines. Some vaccines (DT and Td) protect against diphtheria and tetanus, while others (DTaP and Tdap) also protect against pertussis.
Oct 6, 2020 • 6:33 pm CDT
Polio Outbreak Alerts For Southeast Asia Countries
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reissued a Level 2 Travel Alert on October 6, 2020, regarding polio outbreaks in several countries located in southeast Asia. These countries included in this Alert are China, Afghanistan, Burma (Myanmar), Malaysia, Pakistan, The Philippines, and Yemen.
The WHO recommends that these countries require residents and long-term (4 weeks) visitors show proof of polio vaccination before leaving the country.
For travelers visiting countries with circulating poliovirus who have completed their routine polio vaccine series but who have not already received an adult booster dose, the CDC recommends administering an inactivated poliovirus vaccine booster dose.
Oct 5, 2020 • 4:06 pm CDT
Norwegian Cruise Line Delays Voyages Again
Miami, Florida based Norwegian Cruise Line announced on October 5, 2020, an extension of its previously announced suspension of global cruise voyages to include all voyages embarking between November 1 through November 30, 2020, for its three cruise brands; the Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises, and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.
Oct 5, 2020 • 3:37 pm CDT
The Bahamas Introduces New Travel And Visitor Testing Protocols
Beginning November 1, 2020, The Bahamas stated it will remove the mandatory "Vacation in Place" requirement for all visitors, returning citizens, and residents thereby, enabling everyone to move about and explore the destination beyond the confines of their hotel or other accommodations, announced the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation on October 1, 2020.
The new protocols will require visitors, and returning citizens and residents to obtain a RT-PCR (swab) test no more than seven (7) days prior to their travel to The Bahamas.
In addition, and to ensure that travelers remain COVID-19 free, a rapid antigen test will be conducted upon arrival, and then again four days (96 hours) after arrival in The Bahamas. Children ten (10) and under are exempt from taking a rapid antigen test.
As of October 4, 2020, the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in The Bahamas is 4,452, with the vast majority of cases reported in New Providence.
Oct 5, 2020 • 12:39 pm CDT
Level 4 Travel Advisory Issued for Turkmenistan
On October 5, 2020, the US Department of State published a Level 4, Do Not Travel advisory for Turkmenistan due to COVID-19. The State Department stays 'reconsider travel to Turkmenistan due to Embassy Ashgabat’s limited capacity to provide support to U.S. citizens.
And, travelers to Turkmenistan may experience border closures, airport closures, travel prohibitions, stay at home orders, business closures, quarantine procedures, and other emergency conditions within Turkmenistan. Currently, all international commercial flights have been suspended. Any special charter flights, including medical evacuation flights, must use Turkmenabat Airport, which is 290 miles by air and 385 miles by road from Ashgabat.
Turkmenistan is a country with about 5.8 million residents, located in Central Asia bordered by the Caspian Sea to the west and largely covered by the Karakum Desert.
Oct 5, 2020 • 11:42 am CDT
Travel-Associated Dengue Fever Cases Confirmed in Florida
The Florida Department of Health reported during the period of September 20-26, 2020, there were 34 cases of dengue fever with onset in 2020 reported in individuals with travel history to dengue-endemic areas in the 2-weeks prior to onset. The south Florida county of Miami-Dade reported 14 cases.
Furthermore, Florida reported 66 cases of locally acquired dengue fever in Miami-Dade (2) and Monroe (64) counties, with disease onsets in 2020.
To alert international travelers, the U.S. CDC issued a Level 1 Travel Alert on September 25, 2020, which says 'Dengue is a risk in many parts of Central and South America, Mexico, and the Caribbean. Travelers to the Americas can protect themselves by preventing mosquito bites.'
Previously, the Dengvaxia vaccine was approved by the U.S. FDA in May 2019, for use in children 9-16 years old living in an area where dengue is common. But, a laboratory-confirmation is required prior to vaccination.
Oct 5, 2020 • 6:40 am CDT
Solomon Islands Confirms 1st Coronavirus Case
The Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare announced on October 4, 2020, that a student arrived from the Philippines on a flight carrying 96 passengers has tested positive for COVID-19.
'It pains me to say that we have lost our COVID-19-free status despite our collective effort to prevent the pandemic from entering our country.'
According to Manila Bulletin reporting, Sogavare urged the 600,000 residents to remain calm and said contact-tracing and other measures to prevent the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus had been activated and there was no need for a lockdown.
Oct 4, 2020 • 8:37 pm CDT
US Passport Operations Are Open For Business
On October 1, 2020, the US Department of State issued a new update stating: 'All of our agencies and centers are processing passport applications. You can now apply for routine service and expect to receive a passport in 10-12 weeks. You also have the option of paying an additional $60 for expedited service to receive your passport in 4-6 weeks.'
However, the State Department says, 'We continue to recommend U.S. citizens exercise caution when traveling abroad due to the unpredictable nature of the COVID-19 pandemic. Check our country-specific information pages to make an informed decision about your travel.'
Oct 4, 2020 • 1:38 pm CDT
Paris Prepares for Partial COVID-19 Lockdown
“There is no justification for denial,” stated Aurelien Rousseau, the ARS director for the Paris region in France. “The numbers are what they are, and they are weighing heavily,” he wrote on Twitter on October 4, 2020. The country of France reported a total of 16,972 new SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus cases and 49 additional COVID-19 related fatalities.
The ARS's new data crosses the threshold triggering the maximum alert protocol for the city of Paris, which may need to close its bars and restaurants.
Paris's mayor Anne Hidalgo told reporters that "it's not a done deal, there is still work being done, we're still talking". But she also conceded that the health situation was "very serious,", reported France24.
Oct 2, 2020 • 1:57 pm CDT
How Clean Is the Air in Passenger Aircraft?
A new article published by the JAMA on October 1, 2020, reveals 'Air enters the cabin of an airplane from overhead inlets and flows downwards toward floor-level outlets. Air enters and leaves the cabin at the same seat row or nearby rows. There is relatively little airflow forward and backward between rows, making it less likely to spread respiratory particles between rows.
The airflow in current jet airliners is much faster than normal indoor buildings. Half of it is fresh air from outside, the other half is recycled through HEPA filters of the same type used in operating rooms. Any remaining risk to be managed is from contact with other passengers who might be infectious.
Seat backs provide a partial physical barrier, and most people remain relatively still, with little face-to-face contact.
Despite substantial numbers of travelers, the number of suspected and confirmed cases of in-flight SARS-CoV-2 virus transmission between passengers around the world appears limited, approximately 42 in total cases,' stated this article.
Oct 2, 2020 • 1:31 pm CDT
Ebola Epidemic in province de l’Equateur. : Report #94
On September 30, 2020, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs published report #94 regarding the Ebola virus disease epidemic in province de l’Equateur, located within The Democratic Republic of Congo. Several initiatives are underway with the support of the authorities in order to facilitate the collaboration of the case and the identification of all its potential contacts.
Since the 11th Ebola outbreak began on June 1, 2020, 33,625 people have been vaccinated since the onset of the disease.
Updated Ebola vaccine news is published on this webpage.
Oct 2, 2020 • 8:52 am CDT
Madrid Spain Launches 2nd Coronavirus Lockdown
Madrid's regional authorities announced on October 2, 2020, Spain's capital city and various nearby towns will soon be under partial COVID-19 lockdown, reported the BBC. Under the new restrictions, residents will not be allowed to leave the area unless they have to make an essential journey. The new restrictions announced by the Secretary of State for Health on September 30, 2020, will impact 4.8 million people in Madrid and nine nearby municipalities.
Data sources indicate the Madrid region has reported 16,585 fatalities related to COVID-19 during 2020.
As of October 2, 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Madrid stated 'Due to COVID-19 Spanish travel restrictions, U.S. citizens cannot enter Spain unless they meet very specific requirements or have already obtained special permission from the Government of Spain.'
And effective October 3, 2020, any city in Spain with more than 100,000 inhabitants and that meets (3) criteria, including the City of Madrid, will need to meet new restrictions.
Oct 2, 2020 • 6:54 am CDT
Democratic Republic of the Congo Confirms Monkeypox Outbreak
On October 1, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced 'a total of 4,594 suspected cases of monkeypox, including 171 fatalities (case fatality ratio 3.7%), have been reported in the Democratic Republic of the Congo during 2020.
During the same period in 2019, 3,794 suspected cases and 73 deaths (CFR 1.9%) were reported by the WHO.
Monkeypox is a zoonosis disease that is generally transmitted from animals to humans, with limited Human-to-human transmission reported. And, Monkeypox virus is an orthopoxvirus with symptoms similar, but less severe, to smallpox, states the WHO.
And, from a prevention perspective, vaccination against smallpox with first-generation vaccinia-virus-based smallpox vaccine was shown to be 85% effective in preventing monkeypox, says the WHO.
In the USA, JYNNEOS is the only FDA-approved non-replicating smallpox vaccine and the only FDA-approved monkeypox vaccine available.
Oct 2, 2020 • 6:26 am CDT
Kenya Dodged COVID-19
Dr. John Ojal and his colleagues at the Kenya Medical Research Institute Wellcome Trust Research Program published an innovative statistical model on September 3, 2020, that concluded that the major Kenyan cities missed the COVID-19 epidemic during the early months of 2020.
Not only that, but these scientists found the new SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus had raced through Kenya's population. "In Nairobi and Mombasa, for example, 30 to 40% of the population has been exposed," stated Dr. Ojal, according to NPR reporting. However, "about 90 percent of Kenyans who have tested positive have proven asymptomatic."
This means the same proportion of people have been infected in Kenya's two biggest cities as have been infected in some parts of New York City. But "If you do compare with what has happened elsewhere, then, yes, Kenya has dodged a bullet," Dr. Ojal said.
Oct 1, 2020 • 8:37 pm CDT
Paris France Soon to Close Down
The French government is poised to place the city of Paris on maximum COVID-19 alert beginning in early October 2020, said France's Health Minister Olivier Veran on October 1, 2020. Reuters reported this move would likely force the closure of Paris' restaurants and bars.
"It is getting worse faster in Paris and the surrounding area," Véran told a news conference.
Additionally, Véran said 5 other French cities – Lille, Lyon, Grenoble, Toulouse, and Saint-Étienne – could also be placed on maximum alert next week, reported France24.
Oct 1, 2020 • 1:05 pm CDT
Austria Sued For Ski Resort Generated COVID-19 Cases
The Austrian government is being sued for not appropriately reacting to COVID-19 outbreaks at ski resorts in the western Tyrol region in early 2020, reported the BBC on September 23, 2020. One Austrian ski resort located in Ischgl has been linked to COVID-19 cases in 45 countries after skiers brought home the SARS-CoV-2 virus with them.
In preparation for the 2020-2021 ski season in the USA, the CEO of Vail Resorts sent a letter to the Epic Pass members of its 34 ski resorts: 'We will be requiring guests to wear face coverings in every part of our operations, which includes loading and riding in chairlifts and gondolas; when inside all buildings; and during all ski and snowboard lessons.'
'Being safe and successful this season will require everyone’s cooperation and we believe face coverings are foundational to make that possible.'
Sep 30, 2020 • 2:37 pm CDT
Cruise Ships May Sail in November 2020
On September 29, 2020, Axios reported Robert Redfield, the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), was overruled when he pushed to extend a "no-sail order" on passenger cruises into early 2021. Instead, the US administration plans to extend the existing 'no-sail order' for cruise ships until October 31, 2020.
Previously, on September 21, 2020, cruise ship companies, such as Royal Caribbean Group, sent the CDC a list of 'Healthy Sail' health and safety protocols the companies say they will implement, including requiring COVID-19 tests for passengers between 24-hours and 5-days before boarding a ship. The Healthy Sail Panel’s 65-plus-page report includes 74 detailed best practices to protect the public health and safety of guests, crew, and the communities where cruise ships call.
Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the U.S. FDA stated in a press release: “The Healthy Sail Panel spent the last 4-months studying how to better protect the health and safety of guests and crew aboard cruise ships. Taken as a comprehensive approach, we believe the Panel’s robust public health recommendations will help inform strategies for a safe resumption of sailing.”
Sep 30, 2020 • 1:39 pm CDT
Wales Leads the UK in COVID-19 Cases
New data published by GOV.UK on September 30, 2020, indicate the Rate Per 1k Population for residents with at least 1 lab-confirmed positive COVID-19 test results in each area of the United Kingdom since the start of the pandemic is as follows:
- Wales = 760
- England = 689
- Northern Ireland = 617
- Scotland = 535
As of August 6, 2020, the U.S. CDC issued a Travel Alert for the United Kingdom stating: 'CDC recommends travelers avoid all nonessential international travel to the United Kingdom. Travelers at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 should consider postponing all travel, including essential travel, to the United Kingdom.'