Today, the U.S. State Department posted an announcement about new procedures that have been initiated in China to deal with the outbreak of the H1N1 Influenza. Since these procedures may involve random testing and quarantine of travelers for up to seven days, we thought you might be interested in this “official” information.
“June 19, 2009
The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens to the quarantine measures imposed by the Government of China in response to the 2009-H1N1 pandemic that may affect travel to China. This Travel Alert expires on September 30, 2009.
Current quarantine measures in China include placing arriving passengers who exhibit fever or flu-like symptoms into seven-day quarantine. Although the proportion of arriving Americans being quarantined remains low, the random nature of the selection process increases the uncertainty surrounding travel to China. The selection process focuses on those sitting in close proximity to another traveler exhibiting fever or flu-like symptoms or on those displaying an elevated temperature if arriving from an area where outbreaks of 2009-H1N1 have occurred. We have reports of passengers arriving from areas where outbreaks have occurred (including the U.S. and Mexico) being placed in precautionary quarantine simply because they registered slightly elevated temperatures.
In some instances, children have been separated from their parents because either the parent or the child tested positive for 2009-H1N1 and was placed in quarantine for treatment. This situation presents the possibility of Chinese medical personnel administering medications to minors without first having consulted their parents.
The Department of State has received reports about unsuitable quarantine conditions, including the unavailability of suitable drinking water and food, unsanitary conditions, and the inability to communicate with others.
Travelers to China are reminded that all foreign travelers, including U.S. citizens, are obliged to follow local procedures regarding quarantines and any other public health-related measures. The U.S. Embassy will be unable to influence the duration of stay in quarantine for affected travelers. The Chinese government will not compensate people for lost travel expenses. Travelers to China are urged to consider purchasing travel insurance to protect against losses in the event they are quarantined.
For more information on U.S. Government policy during a pandemic, and for travel safety information, please see the State Department’s “Pandemic/Avian Influenza” and “Remain in Country” fact sheets on www.travel.state.gov. Further information about 2009-H1N1 Influenza, including steps you can take to stay healthy, can be found at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control website at http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/, the U.S. Government pandemic influenza website at http://www.pandemicflu.gov, and the World Health Organization website at http://www.who.int/csr/disease/swineflu/en/index.html. ”
The new Acropolis Museum opened this weekend after a decade of wrangling about its design, architects and location. By all reports, the new museum is a success.
Located very close to the Acropolis, the new museum is spacious and included light and airy display areas that provide a fitting venue for its collection of treasures from the Acropolis. See the museum’s official website for information on its collections and visiting. For more information on Athens, see ThereArePlaces.
Of course, it is impossible for almost anything to happen in Greece without a controversy. In this case, it involves the Elgin Marbles that are part of the collection of the British Museum in London (see what the British Museum says about the controversy here. It appears that Lord Elgin, the British ambassador to Greece in 1811 received the permission of the Ottoman Turks (who then ruled in Greece) to take artifacts from the Acropolis to London, where the government purchased them from him several years later. For quite some time Greece has been arguing that the works should be returned to Greece and the British have demurred, indicating that Greece had no place to safely display them. What now?
Look here for our review of the British Museum and the British Library in London.
We’ve just published our new, Rome Guide and hope you like it. We have new photographs, new attractions, new maps and a new design.
We have provided several themes for exploring the Eternal City that include: Ancient Rome, Rome’s Glorious Piazzas, Rome’s Museums, Rome’s Churches, Rome’s Vatican City, Touring Tactics, Shopping and DayTrips.
To make it easier for those of you who want to learn more about specific attractions, we have created an index to all of the attractions that we cover in Rome.
For the most popular attractions we have created detailed coverage in the form of one-page, illustrated guides that provide additional information on the spectacular sights at the locations in this category. Take our new Rome Guide for a spin, we think you will find it helpful in planning your trip to Rome.
As noted in our recent blog, Influenza H1N1 is spreading to the Southern Hemisphere and the number of countries it has surfaced in has cause the World Health Organization (WHO) to declare the outbreak a global pandemic.
However, when WHO originally set the alert levels for pandemics, it was preparing for deadly flu outbreaks similar to the Avian Flu. The current H1N1 strain currently appears to be a relatively mild form of the flu, although it can and has caused a number of deaths. However, the mortality rates from H1N1 remain low at this time.
As noted previously, Influenza H1N1 appears to be ebbing in parts of the Northern Hemisphere and rising in the Southern Hemisphere, which is experiencing the winter season. There is a possibility that H1N1 will re-invade the Northern Hemisphere during the onset of the normal flu season next October. One issue that is of concern to the health authorities is that the Influenza virus could mutate before it returns to the Northern Hemisphere. As of yet there is no vaccine for the H1N1 strain, so any changes in its composition could delay development of a vaccine.
There are no travel restrictions now in place as a result of H1N1. Travelers should consider their destination and the level of outbreak at the destination when planning travel.
The travel authorities in Mexico must feel that the cards are stacked against then. First, Influenza H1N1 (Swine Flu) hit the country and tourists stayed away (and are still doing so). Now that the Influenza has started to ebb, it appears that the drug wars are restarting. Over the weekend Acapulco witnessed a fixed battle between the authorities and the local drug gangs in which the members of the drug cartel tossed numerous hand grenades at the police, shops and anything and anyone in their way.
Today, the Federal authorities and the local police stared each other down over drawn guns.
Sounds like the Wild West has resurfaced in Acapulco. Can other tourist towns in Mexico be far behind?
We recommended avoiding Acapulco in our recent revision of our coverage of Mexico at ThereArePlaces because of the city’s economic decline, as well as its current drug cartel problems. However, many cruise ships stop there and it remains a popular shore excursion with most lines. However, the authorities inAcapulco may no longer be in a position to guarantee your safety. If you are going to Mexico, we recommend that you think long and hard about the risks involved in visiting Acapulco – even as a day tour from a cruise liner. Ask your cruise director for an update about personal safety in Acapulco and then make your plans.
Although Indonesia is not a country that we cover at ThereArePlaces.com, we have run across some travel news for those of you considering visiting this country.
On June 8:, 2009 we received a notice from one of our many travel-news sources that approximately two dozen individuals on the islands of Bali and Lombok have died and a large number sickened recently due to methanol poisoning. Note that some of the fatalities were travelers visiting Indonesia. Each of the deaths is reportedly associated with a locally brewed alcoholic beverage called “arak.” In these cases, the arak beverage had reportedly been spiked with methanol to increase its potency. We strongly recommend that anyone visiting or planning to visit Bali and Lombok exercise extreme caution and avoid consumption of home-distilled traditional arak liquor.
See this story in the Belfast Telegraph online for more information.
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.
Well, we finally hit June 1, 2009 and that means that all aspects of the United States’ Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) are now in place. If you need to know the details, check our article on the WHTI. In addition, if you have heard about the new Passport Card for use under the WHTI, see this ThereArePlaces article.