Yesterday, an unidentified assailant shot and killed a man outside a bar in Guatemala City’s Zone 10 area. The Zone 10 neighborhood is popular with foreigners and houses internationally-branded hotels, restaurants, shops, and foreign embassies. The incident highlights the need for travelers to exercise vigilance and sensible precautions in all areas of Guatemala City, due to the credible risks posed by violent crime.
Travelers should continue to minimize non-essential movement due to the persistent risk of violence. Demonstrations demanding the resignation of President Jovenel Moise have occurred in Port-au-Prince and other urban centers since February 7. Associated gatherings have often involved roadblocks as well as clashes between protesters and security forces.
Travelers should continue to expect disruption as nationwide power outages persist. Operations at Simon Bolivar International Airport (CCS), which serves Caracas, and other airports, as well as communications, are liable to be periodically affected while the blackouts continue and may be entirely suspended without notice. Yesterday, protests and looting took place in areas heavily affected by blackouts. Today, the government has suspended school classes and labor activity nationwide as a result of the outages. The outages are taking place amid a protracted ongoing political crisis, which has also adversely affected Venezuela’s heath infrastructure and has led to Venezuela being classified as high medical-risk country. Both public and private medical systems can now provide only basic medical care; moderate and severe medical conditions are likely to require international evacuation.
Travelers in Madagascar and Mozambique should maintain flexible itineraries to account for likely disruption caused by the passage of Tropical Cyclone Idai. According to Mozambique’s National Institute of Meteorology (INAM), Idai is likely to intensify as it turns south and west over the Mozambique Channel. The cyclone is likely to make landfall on March 14 in Mozambique’s Zambezia province. Yesterday, Ethiopian Airlines flight #302 was scheduled to travel from Addis Ababa Bole International Airport (ADD) to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO) in Nairobi. Shortly after take-off, the aircraft’s pilot issued a distress call and lost contact with air traffic controllers. The flight crashed near Bishoftu, southeast of Addis Ababa; no survivors were identified. An immediate cause of the crash has not yet been reported.
Travelers in Bissau and other urban centers should exercise caution around the release of yesterday’s Legislative Election results. Twenty-one political parties participated in the vote, including the ruling African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC) party and the main opposition Party for Social Renewal (PRS). Provisional results are expected to be announced tomorrow. While the polls passed off without incident, travelers should continue to avoid all political gatherings as a precaution.
Today through Wednesday, March 13, travelers in Baghdad and Najaf should anticipate heightened security and associated disruption during an official visit by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. According to a statement by the Iranian Ambassador to Iraq, Rouhani will meet with President Barham Salih and Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi in Baghdad, before traveling to Najaf to meet with pre-eminent Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. Travelers should reconfirm the status of routes, including to and from Baghdad (BGW) and Najaf (NJF) international airports, as well as around the International Zone in Baghdad.
Travelers using Israel Railways (IR) should reconfirm schedules due to an ongoing strike by workers, which began yesterday. The industrial action has disrupted services between Karmiel and Haifa, and between Rishon LeZion and Lod. Service on other sections of IR are currently operating normally. The walkout began after talks between the workers’ union and management over working conditions failed.
Travelers are reminded to exercise vigilance in public places and around militant targets such as hotels, shopping centers, and restaurants following the arrest of suspected militants in Malindi during an anti-terrorism raid on February 22. In a raid on a house in Ngombeni on March 8, security forces seized bomb-making materials, knives, and extremist propaganda. The house is believed to have been used as a training facility for members of the Somalia-based extremist al-Shabab group. There is a persistent risk of terrorism in Kenya, necessitating vigilance and, where possible, minimizing time spent around potential targets.
Health authorities have declared an outbreak of dengue fever. The disease is spread by mosquitoes and is present in both rural and urban areas. Dengue can cause a range of symptoms and has no particular treatment. Some people, especially those who have been infected before, get a more severe form that can lead to fatal complications. Although a vaccine is available in several locations, it is only recommended for people who have been infected with dengue in the past and are living or traveling in areas with high levels of dengue transmission. Travelers should prevent infection by avoiding mosquito bites.
Thousands of people have been infected with chickenpox in refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar. Chickenpox is a highly contagious disease that, although generally mild, can cause serious illness in infants, adults, and pregnant women. It spreads from personto-person via direct contact with infected droplets that have been coughed or sneezed into the air, or by contact with the rash. Common symptoms include fever, cough, runny nose, and headache followed by a characteristic rash of red, itchy blisters. Travelers should prevent infection through vaccination and general hygiene.
Travelers should anticipate disruption and reconfirm flights after the country’s civil aviation regulator ordered the nationwide suspension of all Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft operations by 6:00 PM local time today. The development comes after an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 plane bound for Nairobi crashed shortly after take-off yesterday; all 157 people on board were killed. Multiple domestic airlines operate this aircraft, including China Eastern, Shanghai Airlines, Air China and China Southern, as well as Hainan, Xiamen, Shandong, and Shenzhen airlines.
Cases of influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 have been reported from parts of India. Influenza A(H1N1)pdm09, known previously as “swine flu,” now circulates as a seasonal strain; the current northern hemisphere influenza vaccine protects against this strain. Influenza is a viral illness, causing a sudden fever, cough, headache, weakness and muscular pains. Most cases are mild although some can be severe or even fatal. Pregnant women, adults over 65, and young children are at higher risk of severe illness. Travelers should prevent infection through vaccination and attention to hygiene.
At least three soldiers and one rebel were killed during a shoot-out in Yigi village between a suspected militant group and security forces guarding a construction site on March 7. Authorities claimed the assailants belonged to the National Liberation Army of West Papua (TPNPB), a separatist group associated with the Free Papua Movement (OPM). The incident is the latest in a spike in clashes between authorities and separatists since late 2018. Travel to Papua and West Papua provinces should be for essential purposes only.
On March 9, at least nine police officers were killed in a militant attack on a police station in Yoetayoke village, north of Sittwe; no group has claimed responsibility. The incident follows fatal clashes between the ethnic-Rakhine Buddhist Arakan Army (AA) and the military in Paletwa township on March 7; more than 12 security force personnel were killed. The developments underline the need for travelers to avoid non-essential travel to the northern townships of Rakhine, including Buthidaung, and areas in southern Chin that border Rakhine and Bangladesh.
Beginning March 18, unions representing public sector workers have called for an indefinite strike in New Caledonia to demand higher wages. Travelers should anticipate disruption to travel and public services, particularly in Noumea, if the action proceeds as planned. Transportation unions may also join the strike, which could affect the availability of taxis. Travelers should avoid all related protests and reconfirm transportation bookings and appointments during the strike.
Travelers flying to, from, or within Pakistan should continue to reconfirm flight schedules amid an ongoing partial airspace closure. Limited operations continue at 11 airports that were permitted to reopen after Pakistan closed its airspace on February 27 amid increased tensions with India. Today, the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA) announced that general airspace restrictions, affecting over-flying flights, have been extended until at least 3:00 PM local time tomorrow.
Travelers in urban centers should continue to avoid weekly protests by supporters of the “Yellow Vests” movement due to the risk of local unrest. While protests have been taking place every Saturday, rallies have also taken place on other days. On March 16, rallies will be held at 11:00 AM local time at the Opera to Place de la Republique and at 1:00 PM local time at Place de la Madeleine in Paris.
Today, passengers transiting Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS) should anticipate disruption and reconfirm flights prior to setting out. Airport authorities have warned of possible delays and cancellations due to strong winds. The poor weather conditions have prompted KLM Royal Dutch Airlines to change their flight schedules for today.