Travel Vaccine Breaking News

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Jul 27, 2021 • 2:53 pm CDT

Iceland-based Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason does not rule out the possibility that COVID-19 related restrictions will persist to some extent in the coming years, reported local media.

A 200-person gathering limit, one-meter distance, and restricted opening hours for bars and nightclubs have been reimposed in Iceland just weeks after all domestic restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic were lifted.

Asked on July 27, 2021, if there is no clear way out of the COVID-19 epidemic, now that lockdown measures are being proposed in Iceland despite vast vaccinations, a Reykjavík newspaper reported he said, "It can be quite like that, no one can say with certainty what the future will be like."

"That's what we've always been saying, too, that there's no predictability in this. It is nothing new, and many people complain that it is not possible to bring predictability in operations and such, but it is not possible when the virus is unpredictable, and something new comes up that changes what you thought a few months ago."

Þórólfur said that the coronary virus epidemic would not end in this country (Iceland) until it ends worldwide.

"I believe that if people decide on certain actions, then there is nothing left to wait for. Then I think people should make it take effect as soon as possible, "he says.

The Icelandic authorities recently announced that all vaccinated people and those recovered from COVID-19 must present a negative PCR or rapid antigen test taken within 72 hours before reaching the country, starting July 27, 2021.

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Jul 26, 2021 • 9:05 am CDT

Hungary's Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó has announced today in a Facebook post this EU country will allow Russian visitors entry if they hold a COVID-19 vaccine immunity certificate. And Russia will enable Hungarian visitors who show a negative PCR test for the SARS-CoV-2 beta coronavirus.

'We also decided to allow vaccinated Russian citizens to enter Hungary for tourism purposes, so far it has been possible to come for business purposes,' said Szijjártó.

Hungary and Russia have been deploying the Sputnik V vaccine during 2021.

Jul 23, 2021 • 12:40 pm CDT

the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) Director-General Chile Ihekweazu stated to local media on July 20, 2021, there are 59 suspected monkeypox cases, with 15 cases already confirmed in Nigeria.

Mr. Ihekweazu said this while reacting to the monkeypox case recently confirmed in Dallas, Texas.

Mr. Ihekweazu told NAN that 'The federal government was notified of the situation in Texas, through the International Health Regulations (IHR), who reported a case of monkeypox disease diagnosed in a patient who had recently visited Nigeria.'

“Since the re-emergence of monkeypox in the country in September 2017, the NCDC has continued to receive reports and responses to sporadic cases of the disease across the country. In addition, we have been working closely with state health ministries to strengthen monkeypox disease surveillance and response in the country."

Monkeypox is a rare but potentially severe viral illness that typically begins with flu-like illness and swelling of the lymph nodes and progresses to a widespread rash on the face and body. Most infections last 2-4 weeks, says the U.S. CDC.

From a protection perspective, JYNNEOS is the only U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved non-replicating smallpox and monkeypox vaccine for preventing disease in adults 18 years of age and older. The CDC suggests speaking with a healthcare provider at least one month before departing to at-risk destinations.

U.S. citizens can visit the Embassy’s webpage for more information on related restrictions and conditions in Nigeria. However, if you intend to visit Nigeria, the US Department of State says Do Not Travel to:

  • Borno, Yobe, and northern Adamawa states due to terrorism and kidnapping,
  • Bauchi, Gombe, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, and Zamfara states due to kidnapping,
  • Coastal areas of Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, and Rivers states (except for Port Harcourt) due to crime, kidnapping, and maritime crime.

The U.S. Embassy is scheduled to be closed to the public for holidays. The Embassy plans to resume full public operations on July 26, 2021. Services affected include routine American citizen services, visas, and the Education Advising Center. U.S. Citizens who experience an emergency may contact the duty officer through the Embassy switchboard on +234 (9) 461-4000, then press zero.

Jul 23, 2021 • 12:13 pm CDT

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi outlined new COVID-19 pandemic rules that will become effective on August 6, 2021, and continue through the end of 2021.

On July 23, 2021, VOA News reported that Mr. Draghi said the 'Green Pass' would be required in Italy for many services, including entertainment and leisure. The COVID-19 Green Certifies that an individual has received at least one vaccine dose, has tested negative in the last 48 hours, or has recently recovered from the virus.

The COVID-19 Green Certificate is a free document in digital and printable formats that makes it easier to attend public events in Italy to access nursing homes and to move in and out of areas that may be classified as 'red zone' or 'orange zone.'

The new rules could make the Green Pass Certificate a requirement to eat in restaurants, bars, outdoor sports events, museums, movie theaters, gyms, fairs, and meetings.

Italy's Health Minister Roberto Speranza stated '40 million Italians already have their Green Pass, adding that vaccination is the way to “put behind us the most difficult season that we have had to face.'

On June 7, 2021, the U.S. CDC issued a Level 3 Travel Alert for Italy, including Holy See and Vatican City.

Because of the current situation in Italy, all travelers may be at risk for getting and spreading COVID-19 variants. Therefore, unvaccinated travelers should avoid nonessential travel to Italy, says the CDC.

Jul 20, 2021 • 10:53 am CDT

The U.S. Department of State issued a Level 3 Travel Advisory on July 19, 2021, advising against all travel to India. Level 3 encourages U.S. citizens to reconsider travel to the country due to serious safety and security risks, as conditions in any country may change at any time.

The State Department says 'do not travel to:

  • The state of Jammu and Kashmir (except the eastern Ladakh region and its capital, Leh) is due to terrorism and civil unrest.
  • Within 10 km of the India-Pakistan border due to the potential for armed conflict.
  • The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in rural areas from eastern Maharashtra and northern Telangana through western West Bengal as U.S. government employees must obtain special authorization to travel to these areas.

The U.S. Embassy and Consulates based in New Delhi continue to monitor COVID-19 conditions in India. U.S. citizens who must travel to India are strongly urged to get fully vaccinated before travel and continue to take personal health safety measures to protect themselves and avoiding crowded areas with poor ventilation.

And enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.

The U.S. Embassy in New Delhi is one of the largest U.S. diplomatic missions in the world. The Embassy represents 17 U.S. federal government agencies and coordinates the activities of four consulates;  in Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, and Hyderabad.

The Embassy also maintains a Virtual Consulate serving residents of Bangalore.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also issued a Level 3 Travel Health Notice for India due to COVID-19, indicating a high level of disease in the country. However, your risk of contracting COVID-19 and developing severe symptoms may be lower if you are fully vaccinated with an FDA Authorized vaccine, says the CDC. India offers other COVID-19 vaccines, such as Covaxin and Covishield.

Jul 19, 2021 • 7:37 pm CDT

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a Level 4 Travel Alert of the United Kingdom on July 19, 2021. This high-level warning says, 'Avoid traveling to the United Kingdom.'

And if you must travel to the UK, make sure you are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before travel.

Because of the current COVID-19 pandemic situation in the UK, even fully vaccinated travelers may be at risk for getting and spreading SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus variants. See the CDC's recommendations for unvaccinated travelers on this webpage.

Furthermore, the US Department of State issued a 'Do Not Travel' to the UK advisory on July 19, 2021. Although some international travel is allowed by the UK government, U.S. government travel restrictions remain for travelers from the UK to the United States.

Visit the U.S. Embassy's COVID-19 webpage for more information related to restrictions and conditions in the UK.

Note: The State Department also issued a Level 4 'Do Not Travel' advisory for the British Virgin Islands due to health and safety measures and COVID-related conditions, on July 19, 2021.

Jul 19, 2021 • 7:19 pm CDT

The Government of Canada announced today it is prioritizing the health and safety of everyone in Canada by taking a risk-based and measured approach to re-opening its borders.

On September 7, 2021, provided that the domestic epidemiologic situation remains favorable, the Government intends to open Canada’s borders to fully vaccinated travelers who have completed the full course of COVID-19 vaccination with a Government of Canada-accepted vaccine at least 14 days before entering Canada, and who meet specific entry requirements, stated a press release.

As a first step, starting August 9, 2021, Canada plans to begin allowing entry to American citizens and permanent residents living in the USA and have been fully vaccinated at least 14 days prior to entering Canada for non-essential travel.

If they are eligible to enter Canada and meet specific criteria, fully vaccinated, travelers will not have to quarantine upon arrival in Canada.

This preliminary step allows the Government of Canada to fully operationalize the adjusted border measures ahead of September 7, 2021, and recognizes the many close ties between Canadians and Americans.

Subject to limited exceptions, all travelers must use Canada's ArriveCAN to submit their travel information.

As of July 19, 2021, the U.S. CDC's website says, 'Because of the current situation in Canada, all travelers may be at risk for getting and spreading COVID-19 variants.' See the CDC's recommendations for unvaccinated travelers.

If you decide to visit Canada, see the U.S. Embassy's web page regarding COVID-19, and enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.

Jul 19, 2021 • 7:11 am CDT

The BBC reported the Czech Republic Olympic Committee confirmed on July 19, 2021, that a beach volleyball player had tested positive in the athletes' village, two days after a staff member had tested positive following their arrival in Tokyo on a charter flight from Prague.

Olympic Organizers had earlier announced six new COVID-19 cases connected to the Olympics, including media, contractors, and other personnel, though none of those were in the village. This news brings the total number of positive COVID-19 cases to 29 among the 22,000 accredited people who have arrived in Japan from abroad to attend the Tokyo Olympics 2020.

The U.S. CDC recently stated, 'Because of the current situation in Japan, all travelers may be at risk for getting and spreading COVID-19 variants.'

  • See recommendations for fully vaccinated travelers.
  • See recommendations for unvaccinated travelers.

In addition to the COVID-19 pandemic, the CDC suggests that visitors to Japan discuss various travel vacation options with their healthcare provider one month before traveling abroad.

Jul 17, 2021 • 1:50 pm CDT

The U.S. CDC and the Texas Department of State Health Services confirmed on July 15, 2021, a human monkeypox case in a U.S. resident who recently traveled from Nigeria to the USA. The patient is currently hospitalized in Dallas, Texas.

The CDC confirmed it is working with the airline and state and local health officials to contact airline passengers and others who may have been in contact with the patient during two flights while heading to Dallas.

Since travelers on these flights and in airports were required to wear face masks due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, therefore, it’s believed the risk of the spread of monkeypox via respiratory droplets to others on the planes and in the airports is low, says the CDC.

Monkeypox is a rare but potentially severe viral illness that typically begins with flu-like illness and swelling of the lymph nodes and progresses to a widespread rash on the face and body. Most infections last 2-4 weeks. 

In this case, laboratory testing at CDC showed the patient is infected with a strain of monkeypox most commonly seen in parts of West Africa, including Nigeria. Infections with this strain of monkeypox are fatal in about 1% of people.

There is one preventive vaccine available in the USA.

JYNNEOS is the only U.S. FDA-approved non-replicating smallpox and monkeypox vaccine for preventing disease in adults 18 years of age and older.

The CDC is also running studies in the Democratic Republic of Congo to assess whether the smallpox vaccine Jynneos may help protect healthcare workers from contracting undiagnosed monkeypox infections from their patients.

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Jul 15, 2021 • 12:24 pm CDT

The US Department of State issued a Level 3 Travel Advisory for Mexico on July 12, 2021, stating, 'Some areas of Mexico have increased risk of violent crime – such as homicide, kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery – is widespread in Mexico.

And, the U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in many areas of Mexico, as travel by U.S. government employees to certain areas is prohibited or restricted. For example, U.S. government employees may not travel between cities after dark, may not hail taxis on the street, and must rely on dispatched vehicles, including app-based services like Uber and regulated taxi stands.

U.S. government employees may not drive from the U.S.-Mexico border to or from the interior parts of Mexico, except for daytime travel within Baja California, between Nogales and Hermosillo on Mexican Federal Highway 15D, and between Nuevo Laredo and Monterrey on Highway 85D.

Furthermore, U.S. government employees should avoid traveling alone, especially in remote areas of Mexico.

In many Mexican states, local emergency services are limited outside the state capital or major cities. Such as in Colima state, Guerrero state, Michoacan state, Sinaloa state, and Tamaulipas state.

Additional State Department notices are listed on this webpage

And visitors to Mexico are encouraged to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program to receive security messages and make it easier to be located in an emergency.

From a health perspective, the U.S. CDC has identified various vaccinations visitors to Mexico should consider before traveling.

Jul 15, 2021 • 10:38 am CDT

The US Department of State issued a notice on July 12, 2021, stating 'mail delays are impacting when we receive passport applications for processing. Our processing times begin the day we receive your application, not the day you mail it.'

The State Department says passport applicants can expect the following level of service:

  • Routine service can take up to 18 weeks from the day an application is submitted to the day a new passport is received. The 18-week timeframe includes up to 12 weeks for processing and up to 6 weeks for mailing times on the front and back end.
  • Expedite service (for an additional $60) can take up to 12 weeks from the day an application is submitted to the day a new passport is received. The 12-week timeframe includes up to 6 weeks for processing and up to 6 weeks for mailing times on the front and back end.
  • Our processing times (up to 12 weeks for routine; up to 6 weeks for expedite) do not include mailing times. Mail times vary and delays have been significant. Plan ahead.

Furthermore, due to limited availability for urgent travel appointments, we cannot guarantee you can receive in-person service at a passport agency or center. We are prioritizing customers with life-or-death emergencies. We do not charge a fee to make an appointment, says the State Department.

Visit a Passport Agency to apply at least six months before a planned trip abroad to learn more.

Jul 11, 2021 • 8:29 am CDT

The Embassy of the United States in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, issued a Security Alert on July 9, 2021, reminding U.S. citizens of the current Level Four Travel Advisory for Haiti (“do not travel”). 

'Given the reopening of airports to commercial flights, we strongly encourage those U.S. citizens who are in-country to avail themselves of the opportunity to depart Haiti, especially if they feel at risk or threatened in any way.' 

The Embassy suggests these actions to take:

  • Avoid demonstrations and crowds.
  • Do not attempt to drive through roadblocks; and
  • If you encounter a roadblock, turn around and get to a safe area.
  • Monitor local media for breaking events and be prepared to adjust your plans.
  • Keep travel documents up to date and easily accessible.
  • Have evacuation plans that do not rely on U.S. government assistance.
  • Make contingency plans to leave the country.

The U.S. Consular Section is resuming limited services starting Monday, July 12, 2021. If you have an emergency, please refer to our website for information regarding obtaining appointments or contacting the staff.

The U.S. Embassy Port-au-Prince, Haiti, is located at Tabarre 41, Route de Tabarre. Emergencies: +509-2229-8000; Non-emergency inquiries: [email protected]; Website: https://ht.usembassy.gov/ 

Jul 10, 2021 • 2:32 pm CDT

The Saudi Press Agency reported on July 8, 2021, digital registration for male and female pilgrims planning to perform Hajj this year was completed. The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah announced as many as 60,000 multinational eligible candidates representing 150 countries from inside the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia had been selected since the start of the process on the 3rd of Dhul-Qa’dah 1442 H.

Deputy Minister of Hajj and Umrah, Dr. Abdelfattah bin Suleiman Mashat, said in a press release that the number of registered pilgrims for this year reached 558,270 pilgrims in the first stage of registration which ended on Thursday 28 Dhu al-Qa’dah 1442 H.

Later eligible candidates were chosen according to several conditions, including age and those performing the ritual for the first time, in addition to adhering to precautionary and preventive measures.

The Ministry also called on all pilgrims who have been granted Hajj permits this year to take the second COVID-19 vaccine dose, as they will be receiving it without booking an appointment in advance.

The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah clarified that pilgrims would be received on the 7th and 8th of Dhul-Hijjah at four reception centers. After that, they will be transported by bus to the Holy Mosque in Makkah to perform Arrival Tawaf (circumambulation) before heading to the Holy Sites.

The Saudi Embassy says 'Undertaking the Hajj at least once is a duty for Muslims who are physically and financially able to make the journey to Makkah. The emphasis on financial ability is meant to ensure that a Muslim takes care of his family first. The requirement that a Muslim be healthy and physically capable of undertaking the pilgrimage is intended to exempt those who cannot endure the rigors of extended travel.'

'The pilgrimage is the religious high point of a Muslim's life and an event that every Muslim dreams of undertaking. Hajj is performed during a five-day period from the ninth through the thirteenth of Dhu Al-Hijjah, the twelfth month of the Muslim lunar calendar.

Hajj 2021 will begin on the evening of Saturday, July 17, 2021.

On July 1, 2021, the U.S. CDC issued a Level 3 Travel Alert stating: the CDC recommends that Americans already in Saudi Arabia not make the pilgrimage. Mass gatherings, such as Hajj, can increase the risk of getting and spreading COVID-19 because it can be hard to practice physical distancing.'

Jul 10, 2021 • 7:58 am CDT

Media sources reported the European Union (EU) has offered to open discussion with Russia on travel facilitation for people who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by lifting the strict requirements for self-isolation and testing.

Markus Ederer, Brussel’s Ambassador in Russia, stated on July 9, 2021, both parties “need to find a solution to our COVID-19 certificates."

“The EU has a digital certificate that allows citizens to travel freely within the EU, as well as a law that provides for the ability to declare these certificates equivalent to other similar certificates,” Ederer said.

An example case has already been implemented.

The European Commission recently recognized Switzerland’s Digital COVID-19 Vaccination Passport, making it the first country outside EU countries empowering travelers to travel across the EU.

Currently, the EU does not recognize Russia's leading vaccines, Sputnik V and Sputnik Light.

Jul 10, 2021 • 7:33 am CDT

Data from nine cities in Mexico confirms that identifying dengue fever “hot spots” can provide a predictive map for future outbreaks of Zika and chikungunya, the Aedes aegypti mosquito spreads viral diseases. 

The journal Lancet Planetary Health published the research encompassing data for 2008 through 2020 from Acapulco, Merida, Veracruz, Cancun, Tapachula, Villahermosa, Campeche, Iguala and Coatzacoalcos.

The results found a 6% overlap of hot spots for dengue and Zika and a 53% overlap for dengue and chikungunya cases.

Led by Gonzalo Vazquez-Prokopec, associate professor in Emory University’s Department of Environmental Sciences, this new study provides a risk-stratification method to more effectively guide the control of diseases spread by Aedes aegypti. 

“Our results can help public health officials to do targeted, proactive interventions for emerging Aedes-borne diseases,” Prof. Vazquez-Prokopec stated in a press release issued on July 7, 2021. “We’re providing them with statistical frameworks in the form of maps to guide their actions.”

This new work builds on a previous study of the spatial-temporal overlap of the three diseases, focused on Merida, a city of one million located in the Yucatan Peninsula. That study showed that nearly half of Merida’s dengue cases from 2008 to 2015 were clustered in 27 percent of the city. In addition, these dengue hot spots contained 75 percent of the first chikungunya cases reported during the outbreak of that disease in 2015 and 100 percent of the first Zika cases reported during the Zika outbreak of 2016.

Mosquito control efforts generally involve outdoor spraying that covers broad swaths of a city. 

However, Vazquez-Prokopec is currently leading a consortium in a randomized clinical trial in Merida to test targeted indoor residual spraying as an intervention against Aedes-borne diseases. The five-year trial, launched in 2020, is funded by a $6.5 million grant from the US National Institutes of Health. 

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