Dozens of people have been infected with Escherichia coli in the United States and Canada. Investigations are ongoing, though the illness appears to be associated with the consumption of romaine lettuce. E. coli spreads through contaminated food, as well as from one person to another. It can cause gastroenteritis, with symptoms of abdominal cramping, diarrhea, fever, and vomiting typically occurring about three days after exposure. Most people recover in about ten days without treatment but some, especially young children and the elderly, can develop serious complications, including Hemolytic Uraemic Syndrome (HUS). Travelers should prevent infection by paying attention to hygiene and carefully selecting foods. Travelers are also advised to avoid romaine lettuce and salad mixes containing romaine lettuce until more is known about the cause of the outbreak.
Avianca Brasil, the fourth-largest airline in Brazil, filed for bankruptcy protection,citing high fuel costs and volatile currency markets. The airline warns passengers that services could be severely impacted as an attempt to repossess 14 of its leased aircraft is under way. Avianca has asking a Brazilian court to suspend the repossession to allow the airline to continue normal operations while it hopes to renegotiate its contracts with aircraft leasing companies. Passengers ticketed on Avianca Brasil should reconfirm flights and be prepared to make alternate arrangements as this situation
continues to develop.
Yesterday, armed criminals ambushed a Federal Police patrol outside Morelia, killing three officers; one attacker was also killed. The attack occurred near the MoreliaPatzcuaro Highway, briefly disrupting traffic. While a motive for the attack has not been established, the incident highlights the significant risks posed by violent, organized crime in Michoacan.
Today, travelers in Kananga and Mbandaka should minimize movement and avoid city centers and airport areas due to the visit of opposition Presidential candidates Felix Tshisekedi of the CACH (Cap pour le Changement) coalition and Martin Fayulu of the Lamuka coalition. Authorities in Kananga have erected barriers on roads leading to Kananga Airport (KGA), sparking protests by supporters of Tshisekedi, who have gathered in the city center. In addition, travelers should continue to exercise caution in Kinshasa after a fire broke out at the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) warehouse in the Gombe district on Wednesday, December 12.
Non-essential travel should be deferred through Monday, December 31 due to the risk of unrest around the Presidential Election, scheduled for Sunday, December 23; all travel should be avoided from Saturday, December 22 through Monday, December 24. Those in country should continue to avoid all campaign events and protests. The LUCHA (“Fight for Change”) civil society group has launched a month-long protest campaign to demand that the candidacy of Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary of the ruling People’s Party for Reconstruction and Democracy (PPRD) be annulled. They are also condemning certain actions by the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI), including the decision to use electronic voting machines.
Travelers in the Oromia region, in particular the Borena Zone, should avoid all gatherings following renewed ethnic violence in the town of Moyale on Tuesday, December 11 and Wednesday, December 12. At least 13 people were killed, and 100 others injured during clashes between the Oromo and Somali ethnic groups. The violence has triggered protests throughout the Borena Zone by locals demanding the federal government intervene to end the clashes.
Today, travelers in Baghdad should avoid a protest in Tahrir Square by supporters of Shia Muslim cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. Participants will gather at around 3:00 PM local time to express concern over the ongoing government formation process. Although 14 ministers have been approved by Parliament, tensions persist between Sadr’s coalition and Hadi al-Ameri’s coalition, backed by Iran, over the remaining eight Ministerial posts. Related protests are possible across southern governorates, where Sadr maintains support.
Travelers in Amman should anticipate and avoid further demonstrations over various issues, including the newly-introduced income tax law. Yesterday, around 2,000 protesters gathered around Jordan Hospital, near the Fourth Circle. Participants made various demands, including constitutional reforms, the dissolution of Parliament and the release of political detainees. Security forces used tear gas and batons to prevent the demonstration from spilling onto the main road, where the Prime Minister’s office is located. At least five officers were injured; several people were arrested.
Protests are ongoing in front of the Industry, Justice, and Social Affairs ministries in the Badaro district of Beirut, causing local traffic disruption. Minor scuffles between activists and security forces have been reported. Participants, affiliated with the Sabaa political party, are demanding that a government be formed. They have pledged to continue with protests until the end of the day.
Travelers in the West Bank should expect heightened security following a series of fatal attacks in the territory. Yesterday, two Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers were killed in a drive-by shooting on Route 60 near the Ofra settlement. This followed an attack on Sunday, December 9 which left one dead and six injured. Security operations, including in “Area A” cities controlled by the Palestinian Authority, are ongoing and are likely to include restrictions on movement. Travelers should exercise caution due to the heightened risk of clashes between IDF forces and Palestinians.
On Wednesday, December 19, travelers in Tunis should avoid a planned gathering outside the Ministry of Education at 11:00 AM local time. The protest has been called by the General University of Secondary Education over poor salaries and bonuses. Related sit-ins have been ongoing since Friday, December 7, when hundreds of teachers staged marches in Sfax, Sidi Bouzid, Kasserine, Medenine, and Kef governorates.
Non-essential travel to northwestern areas of Queensland should be deferred through tomorrow due to the passage of Severe Tropical Cyclone Owen. Currently a Category 3 Cyclone (third-highest level on a five-tier scale), Owen is forecast to strengthen to a Category 4 Cyclone (fourth-highest) in the Gulf of Carpentaria before making landfall near Kowanyama tomorrow. Affected areas will experience intense rainfall and strong winds. Normal travel to northeastern coasts of the Northern Territory can resume now that all storm warnings have been lifted.
Through tomorrow, travelers in Victoria should continue to plan journeys accounting for disruption caused by adverse weather conditions. A Severe Heavy Rainfall Warning remains in place for East, West and South Gippsland, while the Hume Freeway is still closed between Wangaratta and Barnawartha. Yesterday, heavy rainfall caused flash floods in several areas, including Melbourne, and trapped more than 100 vehicles on the Hume Freeway. A flood watch remains in effect for Greater Melbourne, West and South Gippsland, and parts of Northern and South Western Victoria regions.
On Monday, December 17, travelers in Suva should avoid the vicinity of the High Court, where an election-related petition by the opposition is due to be heard at 10:00 AM local time. The Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA) and the National Federation Party (NFP) are contesting the outcome of the recent General Election. While no protest has been announced thus far, gatherings by party supporters outside the building remain likely. Police are liable to deploy additional security measures around the court, which may disrupt traffic on adjacent roads, including Victoria Parade.
Travelers should anticipate an increased security force presence in Jakarta and other major cities, as well as the resort island of Bali and other key tourist destinations, over the Christmas and New Year holiday period. Security is expected to be tight in crowded places and around religious sites such as churches between Saturday, December 22 and Wednesday, January 2. Travelers should remain alert to their surroundings at all times due to the persistent threat of terrorism and an increased risk of opportunistic crime.
Today, travelers in Karachi should avoid the area around the Karachi Press Club during an ongoing protest. Demonstrators are protesting a six-day gas shortage in the region. While the protest has so far been peaceful, it is well attended and therefore causing some disruption in the vicinity.
Today, travelers in Colombo should anticipate further gatherings around the Supreme Court and continue to avoid the vicinity. A hearing is scheduled on a Court of Appeal decision barring newly appointed Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and his cabinet from official duties. Yesterday, supporters of ousted Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe gathered outside the Supreme Court following a separate ruling that the President’s dissolution of Parliament in November was unconstitutional. The outcome of today’s hearing may trigger protests or celebratory rallies by rival political supporters.
Rail travelers in Ankara should continue to anticipate disruption and reconfirm services after a train crash temporarily halted services between Ankara and Konya yesterday. According to the Turkish Republic State Railways, the Ankara-Konya route is currently operating from Eryaman YHT Gar Station, instead of Ankara Train Station. Bus services are being provided from Ankara Train Station to Eryaman YHT Gar Station.
Today travelers should anticipate disruption and avoid planned nationwide protests by the FGTB labor union to denounce the government’s economic policies. In Brussels, a rally will occur at 11:00 AM local time in front of the FEB union headquarters. The union will also observe a 24-hour strike in Charleroi and Liege. The protests may be accompanied by roadblocks, which could disrupt travel at short notice.
Travelers in France should plan journeys accounting for disruption during strikes called by the General Confederation of Labor (CGT) union. Staff at nationwide rail operator SNCF will observe industrial action today; however, a spokesman for SNCF said the impact will be minimal, with 95% of regional (TER) trains running. In Paris, a strike at public transportation operator RATP is ongoing through 7:00 AM local time tomorrow, affecting RER B trains. The work stoppages have been organized to demand higher salaries and pensions and are part of a national day of action that includes walkouts in the public service sector today.
Travelers in Paris and other urban centers should avoid planned protests by students against educational reform and in support of the “Yellow Vests” movement. A related strike has been called and related protests are probable today. Education unions have also called for their members to join “Yellow Vests” rallies scheduled for tomorrow, boosting turnout and potentially exacerbating disruption during such gatherings.
Travelers in northern areas of the country, especially Mitrovica, should anticipate disruption and expect potential unrest around today’s Parliamentary vote on the creation of a National Army. The government aims to reform the existing paramilitary Kosovo Security Force (KSF) of about 4,000 units into an expanded and legitimate Armed Forces. The vote has been criticized by the Serbian government as a threat to ethnic-Serbs living in the north of Kosovo.
Today, travelers in Kiev should avoid a planned protest by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate (UOCMP) outside Verkhovna Rada. UOC-MP is protesting against government involvement in religious affairs. The gathering comes on the eve of a meeting of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC)’s unification council in Kiev to mark the establishment of the UAOC.