Travel Vaccine Breaking News

Travel vaccine breaking news brought to you by Vax Before Travel.

Sep 23, 2020 • 5:31 am CDT

Fiji Carefully Reopens For Visitors

Fiji announced it has resumed offering transportation options and is carefully re-opening of borders. Travelers to Fiji must present airline check-in staff with a recent negative COVID-19 test taken not more than 72-hours prior to departure.

As of September 21, 2020, the U.S. Embassy says 'only one international flight travels to Fiji each week – an Air New Zealand round trip flight every Thursday to/from Auckland, New Zealand. Unfortunately, Fiji Airways has suspended international passenger flights through the end of September 2020.'

Prospective airline visitors sand those seeking to enter Fiji by on a yacht, sailboat, or small watercraft should contact Fiji Immigration with specific inquiries and visit the U.S. Embassy's COVID-19 page for more information on the COVID-19 pandemic in Fiji.

Sep 23, 2020 • 5:14 am CDT

Saudi Arabia Allowing International Travel for Exceptional Categories

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's General Authority of Civil Aviation spokesman Mr. Ibrahim Al-Rwosa said on September 16, 2020, that in accordance with the royal approval we have started international flights for the exceptional categories published in an updated guide on its official website.

According to the regulations, non-Saudis will not be permitted to enter the airport except after submitting evidence that the traveler is free of COVID-19, based on a recent and approved certificate, as well as a 3-day home quarantine for those coming from outside the Kingdom.

These new requirements are in addition to the previous measures, including medical disclosure during the quarantine period, arriving at the airport 4 hours before the departure time for international flights, wearing cloth face masks, and keeping safe social distances while at the airport.

Sep 22, 2020 • 3:10 pm CDT

Dengue Infections 'May' Protect Brazilians From Coronavirus

The authors of a non-peer-reviewed study published on September 21, 2020, hypothesized that a safe and effective dengue vaccine could offer some immunity against SARS-CoV-2.

Researchers at Duke University analyzed factors contributing to the uneven spread of coronavirus cases in Brazil, and found an inverse correlation between the percentage of people with antibody levels for dengue fever and COVID-19 cases.

One dengue vaccine has been licensed, Dengvaxia (CYD-TDV), developed by Sanofi Pasteur. Approximately (5) additional dengue vaccine candidates are in clinical development, with two candidates (developed by NIH/Butantan and Takeda) now in Phase 3 clinical trials.

Sep 22, 2020 • 8:49 am CDT

Where Are Face Masks Needed and Required?

We all need something to look forward to again and nothing is more exciting than planning that next winter getaway. Since most travelers are wearing a protective face mask, the Epic Pass organization, which represents about 20 ski resorts, says 'Face-masks will be required to access the mountain this ski season.'

And to fly to a US based ski resort, American Airlines is offering special air fares, which are listed on this webpage.

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Sep 21, 2020 • 8:23 am CDT

Cruising Makes a Case For Healthy Sailing

Royal Caribbean and Norwegian cruise lines have formed a task force with the goal of evaluating every facet of COVID-19 health safety on cruise ships, hoping to open the seas again for cruisers.

On Monday, September 21, 2020, the Healthy Sail Panel presented to the CDC a 65 page report containing over 70 recommendations to prevent COVID-19 onboard as well as how to control a single case on a ship.

"The Healthy Sail Panel's recommendations are robust and comprehensive, and they reflect the intense focus the panelists brought to their work," said Frank Del Rio, president and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. "We know that both authorities around the globe and consumers expect cruise lines to provide the safest, healthiest vacations we can, and this work demonstrates our commitment to doing just that."

MSC Cruises restarted operations in the Mediterranean on August 16, 2020.  Following the company's comprehensive and safety protocols, they continue to expand their European cruise offerings.

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Sep 21, 2020 • 8:00 am CDT

Polio Outbreaks Continue in 6 Countries

Six countries—Afghanistan, Pakistan, and four African nations reported additional poliovirus cases to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), as of September 17, 2020. The GPEI established a novel oral polio vaccine type 2 (nOPV2) Working Group to manage and coordinate the rapid and effective rollout of nOPV2.

The vaccine is a modified version of the existing type 2 monovalent OPV (mOPV2), that clinical trials have shown provides comparable protection against poliovirus while being more genetically stable and less likely to revert into a form which can cause paralysis. The vaccine’s increased genetic stability means there is a reduced risk of seeding new cVDPV2 outbreaks compared to mOPV2.

The U.S. CDC recommends that before traveling to these countries, adults who completed their routine polio vaccine series as children should receive a single poliovirus vaccine (IPV) booster dose. There are various IPV vaccines available in the USA, such as Kinrix and Pediarix.

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Sep 20, 2020 • 8:44 pm CDT

Canada, Mexico and the USA's Borders Remain Closed

In order to limit the spreading of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, the U.S. government announced on September 18, 2020, it has reached agreements with both Canada and Mexico to limit all non-essential travel across borders until October 21, 2020.

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Sep 20, 2020 • 8:36 pm CDT

Rome's Airport Earns 5-Star COVID-19 Rating

Rome Fiumicino Airport is the first in the world to be Certified with the COVID-19 5-Star Airport Rating, announced rating agency Skytrax on September 10, 2020. Skytrax's rating is based on a combination of procedural efficiency checks, visual observation analysis, and ATP sampling tests, with the consistency of standards being a key determinant.

In high movement areas of the terminal, the airport has an in-house Bio-Safety Team of 40 staff that facilitate social distancing and ensure compliance with face mask usage. And, Rome Airport has consolidated operations to use Terminal 3 for check-in and arrival, and Concourse Gates E for departure and transfer flights.

The previous rating announced include London Heathrow Airport (3-Star), Malaga Airport in Spain (3-Star), and Nice Cote d’Azur Airport (3-Star).

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Sep 18, 2020 • 11:37 am CDT

Aloha in Hawai'i

Depending on your coronavirus test results, Aloha will mean Hello or Goodbye in Hawai'i, which plans to reopen for tourism on October 15, 2020, as long as travelers have a negative COVID-19 test within 72-hours of travel, they will not need to quarantine for 14-days. However, key details of this restart plan are still in the works, such as confirming the negative test results are valid and the test was taken within the required timeline.

This planned restart of the tourism industry is welcomed as Hawai'i continues to see declining COVID cases.

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Sep 18, 2020 • 8:42 am CDT

More Elbow Room on Southwest

Dallas based Southwest Airlines announced on September 16, 2020, it will continue to block middle seats on flights through November 2020. Southwest stated it 'hopes by extending these booking caps, travelers will have confidence in the safety measures of the airline.'

Additionally, Southwest says it has 'employed stringent cleaning and physical-distancing practices such as using electrostatic and anti-microbial spray treatments in the cabin, implemented physical-distancing measures, limited the number of passengers onboard, modified boarding procedures, and provided masks for its employees.

As air travel begins to climb from the depths of April 2020, Airlines for America published records stating that air travel is down 70% when compared to 2019.

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Sep 18, 2020 • 7:04 am CDT

Open-Streets Throws Lifeline to Restaurants

Starting September 17, 2020, across NYC's 5 boroughs, the Mayor's Open Streets program will expand to weekday dining. This initiative temporarily closes streets to allow outdoor dining in a car-free environment.  There are 87 participating streets across all 5 boroughs. All locations and hours can be found here.

This NYC program is expected to continue through the end of October 2020.

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Sep 17, 2020 • 11:32 pm CDT

The Bahamas Reopens on October 15th

The Islands of The Bahamas Minister of Tourism & Aviation Dionisio D'Aguilar announced on September 7, 2020, additional details of the reopening plan and commitment to revitalizing the country's tourism industry, while emphasizing that the health and wellbeing of citizens, residents, and visitors.

Beginning October 15th, The Bahamas will enter Phase 3 of the Tourism Readiness & Recovery Plan which will include the reopening of beaches and major hotels. Furthermore, all hotel guests must abide by a 14-day Vacation-In-Place, which will allow guests access to all amenities, including hotel spas, gyms, bars, and more.

More details on the Minister's address and the Tourism Readiness & Recovery Plan may also be found at Bahamas.com/travelupdates.

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Sep 17, 2020 • 11:16 pm CDT

France Expands Outbreak Red-Zones

On September 17, 2020, France's Health Minister Dr. Olivier Véran announced 'extra measures will soon be implemented to curb the spreading of COVID-19 in the cities of Lyon and Nice. These cities will join Marseille, Bordeaux, and Guadeloupe, a French territory in the Caribbean, as coronavirus “red zones” where additional measures are already in place, reported France24.

Addressing French citizens, Dr. Véran said: “We are in a situation, especially in the regions that I have mentioned, where I can only ask you to redouble your efforts, particularly in reducing the number of people you see each day.”

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Measles Travel Alert
Sep 17, 2020 • 2:03 pm CDT

Measles Travel Alert Issued For Central Africa

'All travelers to Africa, including infants and pre-school aged children, should be fully vaccinated against measles,' stated the U.S. CDC's Level 1 Travel Alert, which was issued on September 15, 2020. Vaccination with a measles-containing vaccine is the best way to make sure that you are protected.

There are 2 measles-containing vaccines available in the USA: MMR-II and ProQuad.

The CDC says 'Caused by a highly contagious virus, measles spreads from person to person by breathing, coughing, or sneezing, measles can also spread in airports, on public transportation, and at tourist attractions.'

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Sep 17, 2020 • 10:55 am CDT

Vietnam Reopens Hanoi Bars and Clubs

According to local media reporting, the city of Hanoi will allow bars, clubs, and karaoke to reopen after September 16, 2020, after going 28 days without community transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. Since March 2020, Vietnam has taken a strict stance barring most foreign arrivals and requiring those returning to the country to undergo a mandatory quarantine.

According to the Vietnamese Ministry of Health, Vietnam has had (1,063) confirmed coronavirus cases and (35) COVID-19 related fatalities, since the virus first became known in early 2020.

And, Vietnam Airlines will resume one-way flights to Japan (Tokyo-Narita) after September 18th, with returning flight dates to Vietnam announced after confirmation from the authorities. The airline will also connect Ho Chi Minh City to Tokyo Narita with a flight departing at midnight local time on September 30th.

As of today, the Vietnamese government continues to suspend entry into Vietnam for most foreigners, including people with a Vietnamese visa exemption certificate, reports the US State Department.

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Sep 17, 2020 • 4:51 am CDT

Flights to Nowhere Become Popular

Qantas Airways said a seven-hour scenic flight over Australia's Outback and Great Barrier Reef had sold out in 10 minutes, as it joined a growing trend in Asia offering "flights to nowhere" that take off and land at the same airport, reported Reuters on September 17, 2020.

The Qantas flight, in a Boeing Co 787 typically used for long-haul international journeys, will fly at low levels over Uluru, the Great Barrier Reef, and Sydney Harbour before landing back in Sydney.

Sep 16, 2020 • 7:54 pm CDT

Globally, Very Few Influenza Cases Reported

Globally, influenza activity was reported at lower levels than expected for this time of the year, reported the WHO on Septemeber 14, 2020. In the temperate zones of the southern hemisphere, the influenza season has not started. Despite continued or even increased testing for influenza in some countries in the southern hemisphere, very few influenza detections were reported.

Worldwide, of the very low numbers of detections reported, seasonal influenza A viruses accounted for the majority of detections.

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Sep 15, 2020 • 1:55 pm CDT

Ireland's Cabinet Under COVID Alert

As soon as the Irish health minister showed signs of coronavirus, all cabinet members have been ordered to self-isolate. Additionally, the Dail, Ireland's parliament, will be suspended for a week.

Previously, on August 6, 2020, the U.S. CDC issued a Level 3 warning, advising travelers to avoid nonessential travel Ireland as the health risk is high.

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Level 3 Warning: Reconsider Travel
Sep 15, 2020 • 7:51 am CDT

Visiting China and Hong Kong Discouraged

On September 14, 2020, the U.S. State Department issued a Level 3 warning, to reconsider travel to the People’s Republic of China (PRC), including the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR), due to COVID-19 and arbitrary enforcement of local laws.

The PRC government arbitrarily enforces local laws, including by carrying out arbitrary and wrongful detentions and through the use of exit bans on U.S. citizens and citizens of other countries without due process of law. 

Unfortunately, those citizens banned from exiting only become aware of an exit ban when they attempt to depart the PRC.  Once banned there is no reliable mechanism or legal process to find out how long the ban might continue or to contest it in a court of law.

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Sep 15, 2020 • 5:40 am CDT

Singapore Expands Contact-Tracing Technologies

Singapore's Prime Minister’s Office announced on September 11, 2020, that the Government will begin nation-wide distribution of TraceTogether (TT) Tokens at communities with higher concentrations of the elderly. It consists of the TT app on smartphones and the physical TT Token, with both services based on individuals’ SafeEntry record. This Self-Check service and SMS service alerts people if they have visited the same venues at the same time as COVID-19 cases.

The TT program is Singapore’s national-level initiative to supplement contact tracing efforts to reduce the community spread of COVID-19. Currently, anyone who is entering a public venue in Singapore is required to scan a QR code or their identity cards upon entry of a public place.

Sep 13, 2020 • 8:46 pm CDT

Top 10 Changes to Traveling in the Post-Coronavirus World

The WSJ published an article on September 11, 2020, where we’ll be traveling in years to come and how hotels, flights, airports, and even luggage will evolve—for the better. Read this innovative story at this WSJ link.

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Travel Alert
Sep 13, 2020 • 2:23 pm CDT

COVID-19 Travel Recommendations by Destination

The U.S. CDC's Travel Health Notices are published to inform international travelers about current health issues that impact travelers’ health, like disease outbreaks, special events or gatherings, and natural disasters, in specific international destinations. The CDC's Travel Alerts include:

  • Warning Level 3 (Red): Avoid all non-essential travel to this destination. The outbreak is of high risk to travelers and no precautions are available to protect against the identified increased risk.
  • Alert Level 2 (Yellow): Practice enhanced precautions for this destination. The Travel Health Notice describes additional precautions added or defines a specific at-risk population.
  • Watch Level 1 (Green): Practice usual precautions for this destination, as described in the Travel Health Notice and/or on the destination page. This includes being up-to-date on all recommended vaccines and practicing appropriate mosquito avoidance.

As of September 10, 2020, the CDC updated its COVID-19 Travel Recommendations, which are found at this link

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Sep 12, 2020 • 3:04 pm CDT

US Passport Operations Completed 129,000 Applications Last Week

As of Monday, September 8, 2020, there were 11 U.S. Department of State passport agencies and centers in phase two and 15 agencies and centers in phase one of the COVID-19 pandemic reopening plan. Between September 4th and the 10th, these passport operations received 110,000 new applications, competed 129,000 pending applications, and there are about 944,000 passport applications still pending.

US passport agencies and centers are only open to assist customers who need a passport in the next 72 hours (3 business days) for a life-or-death emergency. Go to our Passport Agency and Center page for more information from the State Department.

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Sep 12, 2020 • 2:08 pm CDT

Ebola Outbreak Claims Additional Lives in Africa

The WHO's African Region Tweeted the latest Situation Report from the 11th Ebola Virus Disease Outbreak in Mbandaka, Équateur Province, the DRC. As of September 10, 2020, there have been 118 cases (112 confirmed, 6 probable) with 48 related fatalities.

Recently, two Ebola treatments Regeneron (REGN-EB3) and mAb114 were found to be highly effective when treating the disease.

Ebola preventive vaccines include replication-deficient adenovirus vectors, replication-competent vesicular stomatitis, human parainfluenza vectors, and virus-like nanoparticle preparations.

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Sep 12, 2020 • 7:31 am CDT

Delta Automates Antimicrobial Screening at Certain Airports

In partnership with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), Delta Airlines announced on September 9, 2020, it is rolling out these antimicrobial bins to automated screening lanes in Atlanta, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Los Angeles, New York-LaGuardia, and New York-JFK airports.

The new bins prevent the growth of a broad spectrum of bacteria through antimicrobial technology that is built into the bin and continuously minimizes the presence of microbes throughout the bin’s lifecycle. A sleek black color and indicators on bin handles will help customers know their belongings are safely traveling through the security checkpoint protected by this antimicrobial advancement.

This innovation is the latest advancement in Delta and TSA’s partnership to continue enhancing the customer experience, which has included launching the first biometric terminal and working together to speed up international security lines in Atlanta.

Additionally, Delta is reported to be the most aggressive airline regarding 'face-mask-wearing'. As of September 3rd, Delta stated it added 270 people to its no-fly list related to its face mask policies. "The use of face masks remains a top priority for reducing the spread of the virus."

"That's why masks are required for employees and our customers," Delta CEO Ed Bastian told employees in an internal memo.

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Sep 12, 2020 • 6:46 am CDT

Mask-Less Riders to be Fined $50

A new emergency rule takes effect across New York City's subways and buses, Metro-North and Long Island Rail Road beginning on September 14, 2020. Executive Order 202.18, directs the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) to issue $50 dollar fines to transit riders who are not appropriately wearing a face-mask during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mask compliance will be enforced by various Officers, however, MTA frontline employees are not responsible for enforcement, announced New York Governor Cuomo recent press statement.

To assist unprepared travelers, the MTA has deployed vending machines at various stations allowing customers to buy reusable face masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, and sanitizing wipes. Additionally, the MTA has installed free surgical mask dispensers inside 360 buses across 15 routes, to help further protect customers while on board.

According to the NYC website data, the city of New York has experienced a significant decrease in the number of SARS-CoV-2 cases, and COVID-19 related fatalities, as of September 11, 2020.

Sep 11, 2020 • 5:18 am CDT

International Travelers' Desires Have Shifted

Conde Nast commented on September 8, 2020, 'Travelers' desires and expectations have shifted, and hotels, airlines, cruise companies, and destinations have all changed how they operate in response'.... to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Conde Nast has identified 5 key principles demanded by travelers which are being fulfilled by the best travel providers. This list is published at this link.

Sep 10, 2020 • 9:48 am CDT

20-second COVID-19 Test Successful at Heathrow Airport

British start-up company iAbra said it has developed a 20-second COVID-19 test which has undergone a successful 3-week trial at Heathrow Airport. Virolens is based on microscopic holographic imaging and artificial intelligence, the screening device uses a digital camera attached to a microscope to analyze saliva samples.

The data are run through a computer which is able to count individual active virus cells in any sample. The Virolens system has a 99.8% sensitivity and 96.7% specificity, based on the results of an internal in-vitro validation study by the University of Bristol.

The end result is given within 20 seconds, reported BusinessCloud on September 10, 2020. 

The speed of tests conducted using the screening device, combined with its portability, could provide a major boost to transport hubs, offices, and sporting and cultural events venues reopening after lockdown. 

“Testing for COVID-19 is the lifeline that the UK economy needs to get back on its feet,” added John Holland Kaye, CEO at Heathrow Airport. “We urge the government to fast-track this technology to protect the economy and help save millions of jobs in this country.” 

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Sep 10, 2020 • 9:17 am CDT

US Ends Enhanced Screening For Arriving International Travelers

The U.S. government announced plans to end enhanced screening of arriving international passengers for the SARS-CoV-2 virus, beginning on September 14, 2020, according to a Yahoo News report. Currently, international arrivals are screened for their temperatures and with questions about COVID-19 symptoms. After completing the screening, passengers proceed through passport control and customs.

Acting Secretary Chad Wolf had issued a Notice of Arrival Restrictions on March 13, 2020, outlining the process for certain people returning to the USA home after visiting certain European countries, China, and Iran.

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Sep 9, 2020 • 2:15 pm CDT

Lyme Disease Is 'No Laughing Matter'

The comedian Amy Schumer announced on Instagram on September 8, 2020, that she is being treated for Lyme Disease, and she may have contracted the tick-borne illness "years" ago. Schumer, 39, asked her followers to weigh in if they've also battled Lyme disease, which can lead to debilitating symptoms if left untreated. 

"I also want to say that I feel good and am excited to get rid of it," she concluded her post.

The number of US residents afflicted with Lyme disease was found to be 10 times greater than what the U.S. CDC reports each year, according to a clinical presentation on August 17, 2020.

Recently, a France based vaccine company announced positive initial results for the first Phase 2 study of Lyme disease vaccine candidate VLA15. In a press statement published on July 22nd, Valneva SE stated the 'VLA15 vaccine candidate was found immunogenic across all dose groups tested.' However, the VLA15 vaccine is not authorized for distribution in the USA.

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Sep 9, 2020 • 1:48 pm CDT

'Start Spreading the News' Indoor Dining Coming to Broadway

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that on September 30, 2020, indoor dining will be able to resume at 25% capacity in New York City. This opening of indoor dining will come with strict restrictions.

Besides limited capacity, all patrons will have temperatures checked before entering, and one member of each party must provide personal information for contact-tracing if needed.

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Sep 9, 2020 • 12:43 pm CDT

Vietnam Confirms Flight VN28 Imported Coronavirus Cases

Vietnam's National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control announced on September 9, 2020, that there are five more imported COVID-19 cases. These international travelers had their samples tested by Ho Chi Minh City-based Pasteur Institute and the outcomes showed that they were positive for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

All of them are passengers onboard the flight VN28 returning from Ukraine, on September 1st and were immediately quarantined in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province upon their arrival.

According to the Republic of Vietnam's newspaper, the nation is placing 37,474 people under quarantine and medical surveillance, including 834 at hospitals, 13,365 at centralized quarantine camps, and 23,274 at places of residence. At present, there are 35 fatalities related to COVID-19 pneumonia during 2020.

On August 6, 2020, the U.S. CDC issued a Level 3 Travel Alert, which said 'Travelers at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 should consider postponing all travel, including essential travel, to Vietnam.'

 

Sep 9, 2020 • 11:45 am CDT

LaGuardia Airport Is Looking 'Great Again'

When flying into New York City's LaGuardia Airport, 29 million annual passengers have been eye witnessing constant construction for years. And finally, the $8 billion effort to streamlined road access, new terminals, and modern-day amenities is nearing completion.

The two main builders, LaGuardia Gateway Partners (LGP) and Delta Airlines, have made significant progress, unveiling what New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has called the airport's biggest milestone to date, a new Arrivals and Departures Hall at Terminal B, reported NewsDay on September 5, 2020.

Cuomo stated in June 2020: "We needed to see the light at the end of the tunnel, we needed to see New York stand up and shine, we needed to remember how great a place this is, and how great a people we are.”

The design incorporates soaring ceilings and an abundance of natural light, creating a comfortable and welcoming ambiance for passengers. The top level features the main commercial district, including 17 of the hall’s 21 modern shops and restaurants.

LGP has also partnered with the U.S. TSA to ensure Terminal B features the most technologically advanced screening equipment, including Advanced Imaging Technology, Smart Pad System and mobile inspection tables as part of the baggage system.

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Sep 9, 2020 • 9:41 am CDT

Germany Keeps Non-Europeans Out Until October

Germany announced on September 9, 2020, it will extend until September 30th its travel warning for countries outside of Europe due to the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus pandemic, a spokesman of the German foreign ministry confirmed to Reuters. The timing of this extension is unrelated to Germany's annual Oktoberfest since it has been postponed for 2020.

On August 28, 2020, travel restrictions are for entry into Germany were updated. Moreover, persons arriving from many countries are obliged to self-isolate for a period of 14 days. More details are available here.

Separately, the U.S. Mission announced the German Warning Day event will take place on September 10th, at 11:00 a.m. The goal of this exercise is to familiarize citizens with the emergency alert system used by German federal or local authorities to notify the public during major incidents, such as natural disasters, bomb disposals, and other security incidents.

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Sep 9, 2020 • 7:48 am CDT

Massachusetts Confirms 4th Human Case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) announced on September 4, 2020, that laboratory testing has confirmed the season’s 4th human case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) virus infection, which is a rare but potentially fatal disease, that can affect people of all ages.

EEE virus has been found in 65 mosquito samples during 2020, over 70% of them in mosquitoes capable of spreading the virus to people. In 2019, there were 12 human cases of EEE in Massachusetts with 6 related fatalities.

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CDC: Level 3, Avoid Nonessential Travel
Sep 8, 2020 • 3:10 pm CDT

Maldives Opens To Tourists With a Catch

As the Maldives continue to reopen resorts, hotels, and transit facilities, the U.S. CDC has not revised its Level 3 Alert, Avoid Non-Essential Travel, which was last updated on September 1, 2020. The CDC recommends travelers avoid all non-essential international travel to the Maldives, as travelers are at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19, and should consider postponing all travel, including essential travel.

Separately, the Maldives Ministry of Tourism stated effective September 10, 2020, all tourists and short term visitors must present a Negative PCR certificate on arrival. The test must be conducted within 72-hours of the departure to the Maldives.

As of September 8, 2020, the Maldives Ministry of Health confirmed 29 fatalities related to COVID-19 have been reported this year. This data indicates a 0.33% mortality rate.

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Sep 8, 2020 • 2:43 pm CDT

United's App Highlights When a Destination is Open or Closed

United Airlines announced on September 3, 2020, a new digital mapping app that enables customers to filter and view US destinations' COVID-19 related travel restrictions. The Destination Travel Guide is reported to be a first among U.S. airlines, provides an interactive, color-coded map to highlight if a destination is closed, partially open, or fully open for travel.

United customers can easily filter destinations to view local regulations, such as social distancing and mask enforcement, as well as to see if hotels, restaurants, and other leisure outlets are open to the public. Furthermore, this app will also note if any diagnostic tests or self-quarantining is required for travel.

Linda Jojo, United's EVP and Chief Digital Officer stated in a press release: "By providing the most up-to-date information on the destinations we serve, customers can compare and shop for travel with greater confidence and help them find the destinations that best fit their preferences."

Sep 7, 2020 • 8:09 am CDT

Which Airline Protects Passengers with COVID-19 Insurance

Airlines around the world are trying to find ways to stimulate consumer demand that has been shattered by the coronavirus pandemic. To address this issue, Etihad Airways, the national airline of the UAE, introduced the COVID-19 global wellness insurance coverage as part of Etihad Wellness, the airline's new health and hygiene program, on September 7, 2020.

Guests who are diagnosed with COVID-19 during their trip won’t have to worry about medical expenses or quarantine costs when they fly with Etihad. The insurance is valid worldwide for 31 days from the first day of travel. 

All Etihad tickets regardless of the date of the booking, traveling between now and December 31, 2020, will include COVID-19 insurance. Guests with existing bookings don’t need to do anything – they are automatically enrolled in the program.

Duncan Bureau, Senior Vice President at Etihad Airways, said: “The safety, health, and wellbeing of our guests and employees is our top priority, during and beyond the flight. This additional cover will not only instill confidence to travel but also reassure our guests that we are doing all we can to keep them safe and protected. As more countries start opening their borders, we are making it as easy as possible for our guests to plan their next trip, hassle-free.”

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Sep 7, 2020 • 3:47 am CDT

Florida Approves Releasing Genetically Modified Mosquitoes

The Florida Keys Mosquito Control Board approved a trial on August 18, 2020, of releasing genetically modified mosquitoes on the Florida Keys. The board voted 4-1 in favor of the agreement with Oxitec, the British-based company that makes the mosquitoes.

The genetic modification means only male mosquitoes — which do not bite — survive. The released male mosquitoes breed with wild females, passing along that self-limiting gene.

Keys resident, Anna Davis, said during the August meeting: "I understand this is a trial because they don't know what's going to happen. So we're literally going to become an experiment here and I absolutely do not give my consent for that," reported public media.

These actions are related to the Florida Department of Health issuing a mosquito-borne illness alert following the detection of locally-acquired dengue fever cases in Monroe County, the jurisdiction that includes the Florida Keys.

This is important news since about 5 million people visit the Florida Keys each year.

Sep 7, 2020 • 3:02 am CDT

Montreal Continues Leading Canada's Coronavirus Outbreak

On September 6, 2020, Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, stated: 'There have been 131,495 cases of COVID-19 in Canada during the 2020 pandemic.' New data indicates the city of Montreal continues to lead Canada's hot-spots, with 68 new SARS-CoV-2 cases confirmed on September 6th.

Dr. Tam added: 'In terms of age, people under 40 years of age account for over 62% of new cases in the latest data.'

This news increases Montreal's total to 30,029 during 2020. Based on Montreal's population of 4.2 million, this data indicates a city-wide infection rate of less than 1%.

Despite travel restrictions imposed to stop the spread of the coronavirus at Canada's border through September 21st, about 18,431 foreign nationals — mostly American citizens — have been turned back after trying to enter Canada to shop, sightsee, or visit people because their trips were deemed 'discretionary' by Canada's Border Services Agency, reported CBC.ca.

"With travel restrictions currently in place, any travelers attempting to enter Canada for discretionary reasons will not be permitted to enter Canada," said the agency's spokesperson Mark Stuart.

Sep 6, 2020 • 7:30 am CDT

Which Countries Drink the Most Coffee?

For coffee lovers, and healthy focused international travelers planning their next trip abroad, a new country ranking by Coffee-In-My-Veins published on September 2, 2020, may be of interest. Coffee is popular in many countries, some of which you wouldn’t expect.

Click on this third-party link to see which countries drink the most coffee.

There has been ample research published by Harvard University over the past 10-years that supports drinking coffee to reduce the risk of various diseases, such as diabetes. Coffee has anti-inflammatory and hepato-protective properties. 

But, various researchers debate the actual ‘associations prove causation’ that caffeine has on human health.

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Level 2 Travel Alert
Sep 5, 2020 • 1:07 pm CDT

Ebola Travel Alert Expanded for Africa

There is an ongoing outbreak of Ebola virus disease in the Équateur province in the western part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), says the U.S. CDC. Additionally, the CDC issued a Level 2 Travel Alert on August 31, 2020, which informs visitors to this area in Africa that they could be infected with Ebola if they come into contact with an infected person’s blood or other body fluids.

Furthermore, international travelers should seek medical care immediately if they develop fever, muscle pain, sore throat, diarrhea, weakness, vomiting, stomach pain, or unexplained bleeding or bruising during or after travel, says the CDC.

Regarding the current outbreak, the WHO African Region Tweeted on September 4, 2020, the latest Situation Report from the 11th Ebola Virus Disease Outbreak in Mbandaka, Équateur Province, DRC ... there have been 110 Ebola confirmed cases and 48 related-fatalities.... which indicates a case-fatality-rate exceeding 43%.

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Sep 4, 2020 • 2:28 pm CDT

Jamaica is Open, But Not So Fast

Jamaica has resumed airport operations and reopened borders, however, a level 3 travel advisory from the US Department of State remains in effect. This new Level 3, Reconsider Travel to Jamaica, is due to both COVID-19 disease-related conditions, as well as visitor safety alerts. This State Department Advisory specifically states to not travel to these areas because of 'crime.'

  • Areas of Kingston
  • Areas of Montego Bay
  • Spanish Town

For specifics visit the new Jamaican Travel Advisory.

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Sep 4, 2020 • 1:55 pm CDT

Paris Continues Reporting Coronavirus Cases

Across France, the number of COVID-19 disease-related fatalities has reached 30,706, as of September 4, 2020. According to the latest reports of the Agence régionale de Santé, the Ile-de-France region has reported 7,746 related-fatalities during 2020.

As of August 28, 2020, and until further notice, wearing a face mask is compulsory in public areas and enclosed spaces, throughout the city of Paris and in the Inner Suburbs of Seine-Saint-Denis, Hauts-de-Seine, and Val-de-Marne, under penalty of a fine of 135 euros.

This trend may disrupt the French Open which is scheduled to be played at Roland-Garros tournament from September 21 to October 11, 2020. This tennis Grand Slam will host patrons, unlike the US Open in New York City. However, to ensure social distancing, Roland-Garros 2020 will open its doors to a limited number of spectators. But, tickets for the main tennis courts will be sold without seat numbers.

Sep 3, 2020 • 10:42 am CDT

Celebrate Good Times, Costa Cruises Set Sail this Weekend

Carnival Corporation the world's largest cruise company announced plans to resume sailing operations, with Italy-based Costa Cruises scheduled to restart sailing in Italy on September 6, 2020, followed by Germany-based AIDA Cruises scheduled to resume on November 1.

These initial cruises will take place with adjusted passenger capacity and enhanced coronavirus health protocols developed with government and health authorities to follow shoreside mitigation guidelines.

"Our highest responsibilities and top priorities are always compliance, protecting the environment, and the health, safety and well-being of our guests, the communities we visit, and our crew," said Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corporation.

Costa Cruises is restarting sailing with two initial ships departing from Italian ports beginning September 6.

Costa Deliziosa will offer weekly cruises from Trieste on September 6, 13, 20, and 27, visiting five destinations in southern Italy, including Bari and Brindisi in Puglia, Corigliano-Rossano in Calabria, and Siracusa and Catania in Sicily. 

Costa Diadema will follow on Sept. 19 from Genoa, calling at Italian ports in the western Mediterranean, including Civitavecchia/Rome, Naples, Palermo, Cagliari, and La Spezia.

Unfortunately, these one-week itineraries are being reserved exclusively for Italian guests.

In November AIDA Cruises will resume its cruise operations with two of its ships, sailing from the Canary Islands in November 2020, followed by an additional two ships departing from the western Mediterranean and the United Arab Emirates beginning in December 2020.

The first of the brand's cruises sails on November 1, with seven-day voyages to and departures from Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, with AIDAmar, followed by sailings from Las Palmas and Santa Cruz de Tenerife with AIDAperla on November 7.

In December, AIDA Cruises will resume sailing operations in the Western Mediterranean with AIDAstella departing on seven-day cruises from Palma, Mallorca, beginning December 12.

Additionally, AIDAprima will offer seven-day cruises from Dubai starting December 11 and from Abu Dhabi beginning December 15.

Previously, on July 16, 2020, the U.S. CDC extended the No Sail Order and Suspension of Further Embarkation for ships in U.S. waters through the end of September 2020.

And, a current list of Travel Vaccines can be found at this link.

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Sep 2, 2020 • 6:07 pm CDT

TSA's Self-Service Technology Authenticates a Traveler’s ID and Flight Information

The US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is piloting a new touchless “self-service” technology that matches a traveler’s live photo with the photo on their ID. The initiative automatically authenticates a traveler’s ID, matches the live photo with the image on their ID, and confirms their flight information in near real-time.

The current pilot at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) follows a previous 30-day test of the credential authentication technology with a camera in September 2019 at McCarran International Airport with volunteer TSA PreCheck™ passengers. Following that pilot, TSA refined the technology in partnership with the vendor and industry experts.

The pilot at DCA also includes volunteer TSA PreCheck travelers, who generally have the shortest wait times and the least amount of physical contact while at a TSA checkpoint. Travelers at the DCA airport are now able to voluntarily participate in the pilot program.

TSA Administrator David Pekoske said in a press statement: “At the conclusion of the pilot, we expect to be able to determine how positioning the new technology will allow passengers to use it themselves thereby providing a safer checkpoint experience while adding significant security benefits.”

Photographs of travelers taken as part of the program are not saved, as there is no capacity to do so. The photographs are only used for identity verification to confirm that the photo matches the image on the traveler’s ID and ensure the passenger is the true bearer of an authentic ID, says the TSA.

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Sep 1, 2020 • 6:22 pm CDT

The WHO Published Flu Season Updated #375

On August 31, 2020, the WHO published Update #375, based on data up to August 16th, which is focused on circulating influenza viruses. The WHO says 'globally, influenza activity was reported at lower levels than expected for this time of the year.'

'In the temperate zones of the southern hemisphere, the influenza season has not started. Despite continued or even increased testing for influenza in some countries in the southern hemisphere, very few influenza detections were reported.'

This good news should not sway international travelers from speaking with a healthcare provider about the available 2020-2021 flu shot options.

Sep 1, 2020 • 5:55 pm CDT

Is There A Difference Between Global Entry and TSA PreCheck?

Most air travelers know that TSA PreCheck provides expedited security screening benefits for flights departing from U.S. Airports, says the Transportation Services Administration (TSA). But this is different from Global Entry, which enables the TSA PreCheck benefit, plus expedited US customs screening for international air travelers when entering the USA.

Global Entry, NEXUS, and SENTRI are programs of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. These programs offer travel benefits to pre-screened members. If you join Global Entry, NEXUS, or SENTRI, use your membership number as a “known traveler number” in airline reservations to receive TSA PreCheck.

Domestic and international travelers interested in Global Entry must apply through the Trusted Traveler Program website. TSA PreCheck™ costs $85 and Global Entry costs $100 for a 5-year membership.

Recently, the TSA launched the “Stay Healthy. Stay Secure.” campaign, which details proactive and protective measures at security checkpoints to make the screening process safer for passengers and reduce the potential of exposure to the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

Sep 1, 2020 • 9:27 am CDT

Flying 'Covidiots’ Produced Coronavirus Outbreak in Wales

A German-based flight that departed from the island of Zante to Cardiff on August 25, 2020, with 193 passengers and 7 crew members, was a coronavirus “free-for-all,” passengers told the BBC on August 31, 2020. Sixteen passengers on flight TOM6215 from the Greek island to Wales have now tested positive and everyone was asked to self-quarantine.

Health authorities told the BBC that 7 people are believed to have been potentially infectious when boarding the plane. The airline said, "A full investigation is now underway as these concerns weren't reported during the flight or before today."

Greece and its islands remain on the UK government's list of quarantine-exempt countries, meaning travelers do not need to self-isolate on their return. However, if you arrive in the United Kingdom from Canada, the USA, much of Central and South America, some countries in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, you must isolate for 14-days, said the UK's updated global advisory, as of August 27, 2020.

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Aug 31, 2020 • 6:07 pm CDT

WHO Confirms 47 Fatalities Related to the Current Ebola Outbreak

The WHO African Region Tweeted on August 31, 2020, the latest Situation Report from the 11th Ebola Virus Disease Outbreak in Mbandaka, Équateur Province, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). As of August 30th, there were 109 total Ebola cases reported, with 47 related fatalities. The Ebola virus disease, formerly known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever, is a severe, often fatal illness affecting humans, says the WHO.

The Ervebo vaccine has been deployed in the DRC to prevent the spreading of Ebola since 2019.

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