Those of you planning travel to Greece or Australia need to be aware of problems in these countries that could impact travel in the next week or two.
In Greece, pharmacists, doctors and bus drivers are on strike and if you are planning travel to Greece, you should read this article.
In Australia, Queensland has once again suffered from flooding, this time related to Cyclone Yasi. Read this article if you are currently visiting Australia, or plan to travel there this week.
For the two weeks, we have been transfixed with the plight of the Egyptian people in their brave battle for a government that would respond to their needs for freedom from repression and improved economic conditions.
As a side note, we had reservations for a trip to Egypt and Jordan starting next week. We were heading up a research effort that we hoped would enable us to add Egypt and Jordan to the list of countries that we cover at ThereArePlaces. I guess our team just had the wrong timing and note that the cancellation of our trip was a minor disappointment and pales in comparison to the travails and problems of the Egyptian people. In our next blog, we will describe our experience with the tour providers, hotels and airlines that we had chosen for our adventure. A couple performed very well, but one failed quite miserably. More on that next time.
Queensland, home to the Great Barrier Reef and Australia’s state that covers much of the northeast of the country, has experienced torrential rains and flooding based on the unusual La Nina weather pattern parked in the Great Southern Ocean (i.e. the South Pacific). All areas of northern Australia have experienced torrential rains and flooding has now reached tragic levels.
The city of Brisbane has been especially hard hit. See this article at Yahoo News for specific details. Note that Queensland is one of Australia’s leading tourist areas and the current flooding has made touring impossible. If you are headed for the Great Barrier Reef or Northern Queensland you might need to delay your journey. The best sources of information on the Australian flooding will be local, so call the hotel you will be staying at in Queensland to get a local’s perspective on the scope of the problems. In addition, search the Internet for Australia-based news sources.
Tasmania, an Australian island and state, located to the south of the continent has also experienced severe flooding. More information is available here.
Read our website for information on the best places to visit in Australia.
A cyclone alert has been issued for the Great Barrier Reef area of Australia for the upcoming weekend, starting on Thursday of this week. Tropical Cyclone Ului is expected to pack damaging winds and islands in the area of the Reef are being evacuated. At present, weather forecasters expect the cyclone to hit the Reef Sunday morning. See this article from Channel News Asia for more information.
We recommend that you delay travel to this area until early next week when it is likely that the cyclone will have passed through eastern Australia
In a press briefing transcript on June 4, 2009, the CDC indicated that the H1N1 flu (swine flu) has likely peaked in Northern Hemisphere countries, although there are some locations that continue to see more cases. The CDC believes that cases of H1N1 will now start to accelerate in the Southern Hemisphere, as this area is approaching winter, the time of year most conducive to proving the “right” environment for a flu season. Travelers should check the Internet for local news on H1N1, regardless of the destination for which they are headed.
Some other factoids about H1N1 emerged from the CDC briefing. H1N1 seems more likely to infect the young rather than seniors. Approximately 60% of the cases and 42% of the hospitalizations have occurred in people between the ages of 5 and 24 and the next highest group is kids under 5 years. Cases in those over 60 years of age have been quite low (fewer than 5% of the total), although this group is usually impacted more than the rest of the population by seasonal influenza. It appears that some people who are 60 or older may have antibodies from other forms of the flu they have contracted during their lives and that these may provide antibodies repelling H1N1.
Just to bring you up to date, over 19,000 cases of H1N1 have been reported in over 66 countries. The United States appears to have been hit harder than most countries with 11,468 probable cases reported, 770 hospitalizations and 19 fatalities. To put this into perspective, seasonal influenza viruses are estimated to cause 200,000 hospitalizations each year in the United States with over 36,000 deaths. Most of the deaths and hospitalizations are in people over 65.
It continues to be a hard-weather winter in Europe. Both de Gaulle and Orly airports have closed for the evening due to expected high winds of up to 120kph (75mph) and are scheduled to reopen on Tuesday morning at 0700, De Gaulle is one of the busiest airports in Europe, so the closure will play havoc with travel throughout the continent.
Across the Channel, rain, snow and flooding are plaguing the United Kingdom in the south and west after the most largest snowfall in the last 18 years. Blizzard conditions are expected in Wales tonight and tomorrow. Throughout the country roads and bridges are icy and many municipalities are running short of road salt to melt the ice. Expect difficult travel conditions if you are traveling in the UK by car during the next week. If you are interested in recreation you should know that the skiing is Scotland has benefitted the large snowfall.
Fires, some natural and some set, have killed over 170 in south eastern Austrlia, north and east of Melbourne. The effect of the fires has been influenced by high temperatures and drought conditions that have plagued parts of Australia over the last several years
A good overview of all of these stories can be found at the BBC or by searching a news aggregator.