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World Travel News Headlines

Date: Wed, 22 Mar 2017 18:34:42 +0100

London, March 22, 2017 (AFP) - Tourists were stuck in mid-air on the popular London Eye attraction for around an hour on Wednesday following a suspected terror attack outside the Houses of Parliament.   Visitors on the London Eye, a 135 metre (443 foot) high big wheel, were later evacuated after the attack, in which a police officer was stabbed and the suspected assailant shot.   The London Eye has a clear view over the area.   "At present we are holding all of our guests within our attractions as per tried and tested security procedures," the attraction said on its Twitter page.   The account later tweeted that the passengers "are now disembarking".   The London Eye is made up of 32 white pods, each of which can carry 25 people.
Date: Wed, 22 Mar 2017 18:34:51 +0100
By Natacha Yazbeck

Dubai, March 22, 2017 (AFP) - Travellers across the Middle East expressed frustration Wednesday at a ban on large electronic devices for flights to the United States and Britain that has sparked confusion and speculation.   From Saturday, passengers on flights to the United States and Britain from major hubs in Turkey and the Arab world will have to check in any device larger than a smartphone, including laptops and tablets.   The United States and Britain have cited intelligence indicating passenger jets could be targeted via explosives planted in electronic devices.

Caught in the middle of the ban are thousands of travellers growing increasingly frustrated with what they see as an absurd measure.   "Is there anything else I should know before flying back home? Navy blue boxers not allowed? Should I shave?" asked an American expat living in Abu Dhabi with a direct flight to the United States next week.   As the March 25 enforcement deadline looms, passengers are growing increasingly wary of restrictions on living in and travelling from the Middle East.   "They took my laptop and my camera," said Mustafa, who did not give his second name, as he boarded a plane out of Dubai to the United States.   The US ban affects nine airlines from eight countries: Turkey, Morocco, Jordan, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.   The British ban, meanwhile, targets flights out of Egypt, Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Lebanon.   Canada and France have also said they are looking into similar regulations.

- 'Why?' -
At the Tunis airport, a passenger flying to Canada via London said he was confused by the new measure.   "I mind because I need my laptop or my iPad. It's a personal thing. Why do I have to put them in hold?" said Riadh, 33, adding he now feared they would be damaged or stolen.   Many were quick to flag a lack of logic behind justifications of the ban.   "Every criminal in the Middle East: 'Oh no! We can't take the direct flight to the US! I hate connecting flights! *Cancels criminal plans*," Egyptian analyst Mohamed El Dahshan wrote on Twitter.   Ankara has said it plans on requesting that the US repeal the measure.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu criticised the ban as a unilateral, temporary move better replaced by "permanent" measures.   The British ban has sparked concern in tourism-dependant Tunisia, which is trying to recover from 2015 jihadist attacks that killed holidaymakers.   "It will have a negative impact on tourism," said Mohamed Ali Toumi, the head of a Tunisian travel agents federation.   American officials have publicly cited security concerns.   "From what we know, the ban is linked to intelligence on Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula gathered by the US military," said Mustafa Alani, a security analyst at the Dubai-based Gulf Research Center.

- 'Time is money' -
The US has conducted intense air raids on AQAP targets across Yemen since January. The Pentagon has confirmed 40 strikes this month.   The US Department of Homeland Security has also cited an explosion on a flight out of Somalia in February last year, in which the suspected bomber was killed.   The attack was claimed by the Shabaab insurgent group.   But experts do not rule out other motives behind the ban, including business lost to increasingly popular Gulf carriers Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways.

US airlines do not have direct flights from the airports affected by its new restrictions.   "American airlines are going to benefit simply because airlines make their business from the business travellers, so on these long flights that are in excess of eight or 12 hours, time is money -- but there are definitely more pressing considerations linked to security," said aviation analyst Kyle Bailey, president of the US-based consultancy KL Bailey Associates.

The UK ban will affect British Airways and easyJet, as well as airlines from targeted countries.   Critics have also raised lithium batteries -- which are covered by strict regulations on domestic flights in the United States -- as a point of concern.   "There is some concern around the lithium batteries in the cargo compartment, which could be highly explosive if they overheat," Bailey said.   But "from what we hear, the terrorism risk outweighs the risk of fire at this point."
Date: Wed, 22 Mar 2017 16:02:34 +0100

London, March 22, 2017 (AFP) - Britain and the United States have announced bans on laptops and tablet computers from the cabin of flights from several Middle East and North African nations.   The restrictions are different in the two countries and only Britain has specified the maximum size of electronic device allowed -- 16 by 9.3 centimetres (6.3 by 3.7 inches).   Canadian and French officials are considering whether to impose similar measures, but Germany, Switzerland, Australia and New Zealand said they are not currently mulling a ban.

Here is what we know so far:
- Airports affected -

The US ban applies to flights from 10 airports in eight countries.

The airports affected are:
   - Ataturk in Istanbul, Turkey
   - Cairo International in Egypt
   - Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates
   - Hamad International in Doha, Qatar 
   - King Abdulaziz International in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
   - King Khalid International in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
   - Mohammed V International in Casablanca, Morocco
   - Kuwait International
   - Queen Alia International in Amman, Jordan

The British ban affects all the airports in six countries -- Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Turkey.

- Banned devices -
Britain said it would be banning "phones, laptops or tablets larger than a normal-sized mobile or smartphone" from direct inbound flights from the countries named.   It specified that the ban would apply to devices bigger than 16 centimetres in length, 9.3 cm wide and 1.5 cm thick -- smaller than some e-readers like Kindles.   The United States said its ban applied to all electronic devices larger than an average-sized mobile phone, including game consoles.

- Affected airlines -
Since US airlines do not have direct flights from the airports affected, its ban affects nine non-US airlines: EgyptAir, Emirates and Etihad Airways, Kuwait Airways, Royal Air Maroc, Royal Jordanian, Qatar Airways, Saudi Airlines and Turkish Airlines.   The British ban affects six British airlines, including charters -- British Airways, EasyJet,, Monarch, Thomas Cook and Thomson.   It also impacts eight foreign carriers, including Egyptair, Royal Jordanian, Tunis Air and Turkish Airlines.

- Timing of bans -
Airlines in the United States have been given 96 hours, from 3:00 am (0700 GMT) on Tuesday, to inform travellers. Officials were not able to say when the order would end.   Britain said its ban must be implemented by 0001 GMT on Saturday, adding that passengers should act as if it has already come into effect.   Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said that while the government hopes the measure is temporary, it will "keep it in place for as long as necessary".

- Why impose bans? -
Officials in both Britain and the United States would not give any details on what exactly prompted the bans.   The US Department of Homeland Security, however, said extremists were seeking "innovative methods" to attack jets.   It cited an incident in Somalia in February last year in which the Shabaab insurgent group said it had managed to place a bomb in a plane leaving Mogadishu for Djibouti.   The device exploded shortly after takeoff, ripping a hole in the plane's side, but killed only the suspected bomber before the aircraft landed safely.

American authorities also cited the downing of a Russian airliner in Egypt in 2015, as well as attacks at airports in Brussels and Istanbul.   A government source in London only said Britain was "privy to the same intelligence" as the United States.   Grayling said: "We face a constantly evolving threat from terrorism and must respond accordingly."   CNN quoted a US official as saying the ban was believed to be related to a threat posed by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, known as AQAP.
Date: Wed, 22 Mar 2017 15:18:26 +0100

London, March 22, 2017 (AFP) - Airlines impacted by Britain's cabin ban on electronic devices on flights from some Middle East and North Africa countries have until Saturday to implement the measure, officials said Wednesday.   But passengers "should go to the airport with the expectation that the measures are already in effect", a transport ministry spokeswoman said.   On Tuesday, Britain said it would tighten airline security on direct flights originating from Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Turkey by banning laptops, tablets, some e-readers and large mobile phones from hand luggage.

The move came hours after the US government warned that extremists plan to target passenger jets with bombs hidden in electronic devices, and issued a ban passengers carrying such items onto flights from 10 airports in eight countries.   While the US announced that they had given airlines 96 hours to inform travellers before the ban came into force at 3:00am (0700 GMT) on Tuesday, there was some confusion over when the British ban would kick in.   "It will have to be done by Saturday" at 0001 GMT at the latest, another government spokesman told AFP, explaining that some airlines may need longer than others to implement the new measure.   Transport Secretary Chris Grayling told MPs that while the government hopes the measure is temporary, it will "keep it in place for as long as necessary".

EasyJet announced that it is implementing the measure from Wednesday, advising customers to arrive early as they may face extra security checks at the airport.   "EasyJet can confirm that, in line with new UK government requirements, it will be introducing new security measures on its flights from Turkey and Egypt to the UK from today," the company said in an statement.

British Airways informed customers on its website that it is complying with the new security requirement.   It adds that customers who are part-way through their journey or about to start and feel "unable to immediately comply" with the measure can rebook their flight at a later date.   Stocks in British airlines, like their American and European counterparts, have suffered because of the ban and were on Wednesday among the worst performers on the London's benchmark FTSE 100 index.   IAG, British Airways' parent company, was down 1.96 percent to 549,50 pence at 1330 GMT, while Easyjet had shed 2.43 percent to 984,50 pence.
Date: Wed, 22 Mar 2017 10:05:14 +0100

Ankara, March 22, 2017 (AFP) - Turkey Wednesday stepped up its objections to US restrictions on large electronic devices on flights from some airports in the country and other regional hubs, saying it punished travellers instead of tackling the problem.

"It would be better to take measures together against those who are a threat instead of punishing normal passengers," Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said during a visit to Washington.   "If there are concerns over security, our departments should come together and take the necessary measures. This work cannot be done with bans," Cavusoglu added, quoted by state-run news agency Anadolu.

Britain and the United States on Tuesday banned laptops and tablet computers from the passenger compartment of flights from Turkey as well as several Middle East and North African nations.   Cavusoglu stressed these "temporary" measures should instead be replaced by "permanent and the most effective" measures, without giving detail.   "America's or other allies' concerns are our concerns," he added.

The US ban affects eight countries including Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Morocco.   His comments come after Turkish Transport Minister Ahmet Arslan said Ankara would ask the US to reverse the ban.   Arslan sent a letter to his US counterpart Elaine Chao, local media reported on Wednesday, in which he urged Ankara and Istanbul airports to be removed from the ruling.   "Turkey adheres to international rules on security," Arslan wrote, NTV broadcaster said.

US officials warned that terrorists are seeking "innovative" ways to attack airliners with smaller explosive devices hidden in consumer electronics larger than smartphones.   Although no US carriers are affected by the ban, airlines hit include flag-carrier Turkish Airlines, the country's largest exporter by foreign sales volume, whose profits have already been hit by a series of terror attacks last year.   The British ban affects all the airports in six countries -- Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Turkey.
Date: Wed, 22 Mar 2017 09:57:11 +0100

Bangkok, March 22, 2017 (AFP) - The Philippines tourism secretary urged the media Wednesday to "tone down" coverage of President Rodrigo Duterte's deadly drug war, complaining that reports on extrajudicial killings were scaring away foreigners.   On a trip to Thailand accompanying Duterte, Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo insisted the Philippines was a safe destination but said journalists were making the country a hard sell because of their focus on the killings.   "Help us because you know, it's really difficult for me to sell the Philippines, especially when extrajudicial killings becomes the topic," Teo told Filipino reporters following the Duterte entourage.

Teo said tour operators abroad were "always" asking her about the issue, citing Asia and Europe as regions where people were particularly concerned.   "I would always say it's safe in the Philippines," Teo added.   "To the media, please tone down a little the extrajudicial killing (reports)," she said.   Duterte was elected last year after promising during the campaign to eradicate drugs in society by killing tens of thousands of people.   Since he took office nearly nine months ago, police have reported killing 2,594 people in the drug war while rights groups say thousands more have been killed in a state-sanctioned campaign of mass murder.

While most of those killed have been poor people living in slums, some foreigners have also died.   Duterte briefly suspended all police from the crackdown in January after it was revealed anti-drugs officers used the drug war as cover for kidnapping and murdering a South Korean businessman.   But, after describing the police force as "corrupt to the core", Duterte brought it back a month later and vowed to continue the crackdown until all drug traffickers were off the streets or killed.

Duterte has over the past year become a well-known figure internationally because of the drug war and his caustic rhetoric against critics.   Duterte this week boasted that calling then-US president Barack Obama a "son of a whore" had made him famous.   He then used more foul language to respond to criticism from European lawmakers of the drug war, and called them "crazies".   The Philippines, despite picturesque tropical islands and spectacular mountains, has long lagged behind its neighbours as a tourist destination.   This is partly due to decades-long Muslim and communist insurgencies, as well as frequent kidnappings of foreigners by Islamic militants.   About 5.9 million tourists visited the Philippines last year, compared with 32.6 million for Thailand.
Date: Wed, 22 Mar 2017 03:44:28 +0100

Denpasar, Indonesia, March 22, 2017 (AFP) - Tourists fled their hotels in panic on Bali Wednesday after the popular Indonesian holiday island was rattled by an early morning earthquake.   The 5.5-magnitude quake struck inland about 10 kilometres (six miles) northeast of the Balinese capital, Denpasar, and not far from the concentration of holiday resorts in the south of the island.

There were no reports of casualties and damage after the quake struck just after 7:00 am (2300 GMT Tuesday) at a depth of 118 kilometres, but some holidaymakers got a shock.    "Dozens of our guests ran out of their rooms when the quake happened," Nyoman Pasek, a staff member at the Hotel Sayang Maha Mertha in the popular tourist area of Kuta, told AFP.   "Everything is now under control again, back to normal."

Carla Beharry, a Twitter user on the island, wrote: "Definitely felt the biggest EARTHQUAKE I've ever felt this morning in Bali."   Local residents also said the quake briefly caused panic on the neighbouring holiday island of Lombok.   National disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said the quake was felt strongly in the capital Denpasar for five seconds.   Indonesia sits on the Pacific "Ring of Fire" where tectonic plates collide, causing frequent seismic and volcanic activity.
Date: Tue, 21 Mar 2017 18:03:55 +0100

Ottawa, March 21, 2017 (AFP) - Canada is considering prohibiting personal electronics onboard flights from Turkey, the Middle East and North Africa after both the US and Britain announced bans, the transportation minister said Tuesday.   "We are looking at the information that has been presented to us, we'll look at it carefully and have a fulsome discussion amongst our colleagues," Minister Marc Garneau told reporters.   "The (threat) information," he said, "has been provided to us by other intelligence communities."

The three countries routinely share intelligence, including on terrorism threats, as part of the Five Eyes intelligence gathering alliance.   Garneau said he would discuss this latest possible threat to airlines with Canadian Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale and "we'll make that public when we make a decision."

The United States earlier banned laptops and tables in airplane cabins on flights from airports in eight countries, warning that extremists planned to target planes with bombs in electronic devices.   The US ban includes any device bigger than a smartphone, including laptops, tablets and portable game consoles.
Date: Tue, 21 Mar 2017 14:45:28 +0100

Accra, March 21, 2017 (AFP) - Ghanaian authorities have closed the popular tourist destination of Kintampo Falls after 20 people died in a tree fall tragedy, officials said Monday.    A group of high school and university students were swimming on Sunday afternoon at the picturesque waterfalls in the Brong-Ahafo region, some 450 kilometres (281 miles) by road from the capital Accra, when a massive tree crashed into the water, crushing some to death and injuries scores of others.

Police said an investigation had been launched into the tragedy but that no foul play was suspected.    "The National Disaster Management Organisation and the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture have in consultation with the Brong Ahafo Regional Security Council ordered the indefinite closure of the Kintampo waterfalls," tourism minister spokesman Frank Siaw-Otu said in a statement.

The ministry called on the tourism authority to "embark on a comprehensive safety audit of all major tourist attractions in the country."    Accidents ranging from deaths caused by mass flooding to petrol tanker explosions and huge traffic crashes happen sporadically in Ghana because of lax regulations and disregard for rules.
Date: Mon 20 Mar 2017
Source: Outbreak News Today [edited]

Jose Ángel Marta­nez, in charge of Sanitary Regulation of Jurisdiction 3 of the Secretariat of Health of Zacatecas (SSZ), reported that there is an outbreak of brucellosis in the community Rancho Grande in the city of Fresnillo in Zacatecas State, according to an NT report (computer translated). Martinez said there have been 5 confirmed cases to date; however, he expects that number to climb. Those infected are over the age of 20. The outbreak is linked to contaminated cheese. Brucellosis is one of the most serious diseases of livestock, considering the damage done by the infection in animals. Decreased milk production, weight loss, loss of young, infertility, and lameness are some of the affects on animals.

The Brucella species are named for their primary hosts: _Brucella melitensis_ is found mostly in goats, sheep and camels; _B. abortus_ is a pathogen of cattle; _B. suis_ is found primarily in swine and _B. canis_ is found in dogs. There are 2 common ways people get infected with brucellosis. First, individuals that work with infected animals that have not been vaccinated against brucellosis.

This would include farmers, slaughterhouse workers and veterinarians. They get infected through direct contact or aerosols produced by the infected animal tissue. _B. abortus_ and _B. suis_ are most common. The 2nd way is through ingesting unpasteurized dairy products. Brucellosis is also an occupational hazard to laboratory workers who inappropriately handle specimens or have an accident or spill. Brucella is highly infectious in the aerosolized form. [Byline: Robert Herriman]
[Brucellosis is a disease that is thought exist since ancient times, as it was 1st described more than 2000 years ago by the Romans and Hippocrates. It was not until 1887 that a British physician, Dr David Bruce, isolated the organism that causes brucellosis from several deceased patients from the island of Malta.

This disease has had several names throughout its history, including Mediterranean fever, Malta fever, Crimean fever, Bang's disease, and undulant fever (because of the relapsing nature of the fever associated with the disease). See: <>. The symptoms and signs of brucellosis may develop from days to months after the initial exposure to the organism.

While some individuals may develop mild symptoms, others may go on to develop long-term chronic symptoms. The signs and symptoms of brucellosis are extensive, and they can be similar to many other febrile illnesses, so recognition of potential exposure from ingestion of unpasteurized milk or cheese, working in a slaughter house or meat processing plant, or working in a microbiology lab is critical information when evaluating a case. - ProMED Mod.LL]

[A HealthMap/ProMED-mail map can be accessed at: <>.]