March 03, 2009
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Anguilla is a British overseas territory in the Caribbean, part of the British West Indies. It is a small but rapidly developing island with particularly well-developed
The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 requires all travelers to and from the Caribbean, Bermuda, Panama, Mexico and Canada to have a valid passport to enter or re-enter the United States. U.S. citizens must have a valid U.S. passport if traveling by air, including to and from Mexico.
If traveling by sea, U.S. citizens can use a passport or passport card. We strongly encourage all American citizen travelers to apply for a U.S. passport or passport card well in advance of anticipated travel.
American citizens can visit travel.state.gov or call 1-877-4USA-PPT (1-877-487-2778) for information on how to apply for their passports.
In addition to a valid passport, U.S. citizens need onward or return tickets, and sufficient funds for their stay.
A departure tax is charged at the airport or ferry dock when leaving. For further information, travelers may contact the British Embassy, 19 Observatory Circle NW, Washington, DC
20008; telephone (202) 588-7800; or the nearest consulate of the United Kingdom in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, Denver, Houston, Miami, Orlando, Seattle, or San Francisco. Visit the British Embassy web site for the most current visa information.
Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our web site.
For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information sheet.
SAFETY AND SECURITY:
For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs’ web site, where the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts, as well as the Worldwide Caution, can be found.
Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S. and Canada, or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444.
These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
The Department of State urges American citizens to take responsibility for their own personal security while traveling overseas.
For general information about appropriate measures travelers can take to protect themselves in an overseas environment, see the Department of State’s A Safe Trip Abroad.
While Anguilla's crime rate is relatively low, both petty and violent crimes
do occur. Travelers should take common-sense precautions to ensure their personal security, such as avoiding carrying large amounts of cash or displaying expensive jewelry. Travelers should not leave valuables unattended in hotel rooms or on the beach. They should use hotel safety deposit facilities to safeguard valuables and travel documents. Similarly, they should keep their lodgings locked at all times, whether they are present or away, and should not leave valuables in their vehicles, even when locked.
INFORMATION FOR VICTIMS OF CRIME:
The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance.
The Embassy staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred.
Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.
The local emergency line in Anguilla is 911.
See our information on Victims of Crime.
MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION:
There is only one hospital, Princess Alexandra Hospital (telephone: 264-497-2551), and a handful of clinics on Anguilla, so medical facilities are limited.
Serious problems requiring extensive care or major surgery may require evacuation to the United States, often at considerable expense.
There are no formal, documented HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to and foreign residents of Anguilla, but there have been anecdotal reports of exclusion.
Please verify this information with the British Embassy before you travel.
Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC’s web site.
For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization’s (WHO) web site.
Further health information for travelers
is available from the WHO.
The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.
Please see our information on medical insurance overseas.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS:
While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States.
The information below concerning Anguilla is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Unlike the U.S., traffic in Anguilla moves on the left. The few roads on the island are generally poorly paved and narrow. While traffic generally moves at a slow pace, with the increasing number of young drivers in Anguilla, there are occasional severe accidents caused by excessive speed. Although emergency services, including tow truck service, are limited and inconsistent, local residents are often willing to provide roadside assistance. For police, fire, or ambulance service dial 911.
Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information.
Visit the Government of Anguilla web site for further road safety information.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT:
Civil aviation operations in Anguilla fall under the jurisdiction of British authorities. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of the United Kingdom’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Anguilla’s air carrier operations.
For more information, travelers may visit the FAA web site.
While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law.
Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses.
Persons violating Anguilla laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned.
Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Anguilla are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.
Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.
Please see our information on Criminal Penalties.
For information see our Office of Children’s Issues web pages on intercountry adoption and international parental child abduction.
REGISTRATION / EMBASSY LOCATION:
Americans living or traveling in Anguilla are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department's travel registration web site and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Anguilla. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy with consular responsibility over Anguilla is located in Bridgetown, Barbados in the Wildey Business Park in suburban Wildey, southeast of downtown Bridgetown.
The main number for the Consular Section is (246) 431-0225; after hours, the Embassy duty officer can be reached by calling (246) 436-4950.
Visit the U.S. Embassy Bridgetown online for more information.
Hours of operation are 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, except Barbadian and U.S. holidays.
* * *
This replaces the Country Specific Information for Anguilla dated April 2, 2008, to update sections on Country Description, Entry/Exit Requirements, Information for Victims of Crime, and Medical Facilities and Health Information.
Travel News Headlines WORLD NEWS
Paris, Sept 9, 2017 (AFP) - France's meteorological agency on Saturday issued its highest warning for the Caribbean islands of St Martin and St Barts as Hurricane Jose bore down, three days after they were hit by Hurricane Irma. The alert warned of a "dangerous event of exceptional intensity," with winds that could reach 120 kilometres (75 miles) per hour, and strong rains and high waves.
St Barts is a French overseas territory, as is the French part of St Martin, which is divided between France and the Netherlands. Twelve people were killed on the two islands by Hurricane Irma, thousands of buildings were flattened and the authorities are struggling to control looting. The French state-owned reinsurer CCR on Saturday estimated the damage at 1.2 billion euros ($1.4 billion). Irma is now heading for Florida, where a total of 6.3 million people have been ordered to evacuate, according to state authorities.
[The 16 May 2014 report from Guyaweb (<http://www.guyaweb.com/actualites/news/sciences-et-environnement/le-chik-revient-kourou-setend-cayenne-desormais-saint-laurent/>) states that there are 2 new cases in Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni, overlooking the Suriname River, of which one is certainly autochthonous, and a new focal point occurred in Kourou with 4 cases.
[Maps showing case distributions on each island can be accessed at the above URL. - ProMed Mod.TY]
[The increase in the number of chikungunya virus infections over the past week in St. Maarten is of concern, rising from 123 cases to 224 cases. This number is confirmed in another report that also indicates that there are an additional 325 suspected cases (<http://www.rivm.nl/dsresource?type=pdf&disposition=inline&objectid=rivmp:239786>). - ProMed Mod.TY]
Morocco is a North African country and a favourite destination for many Irish tourists. The climate, relative shortness of the flights and the idyllic swimming conditions encourage many to vis
Safety & Security
The border regions of the country can be volatile and travellers planning to visit away from the main tourist routes should take extra precautions. The Western Sahara region is still in dispute though there has been an official cease-fire in place since 1991. The possibility of unexploded mines exists though it should be remembered that this area is many miles away from the normal tourist resorts. The level of street crime in Morocco is low but growing. Busy market places, parks and beaches are popular locations for petty criminals. Tourists should take care not to flaunt personal wealth and to avoid travelling away from the main tourist zones late at night. Travelling alone is a particular risk and only authorised guides and taxis should be used. Tourists have been threatened with serious injury at knife point if they have refused to purchase cannabis.
Laws & Customs
It is an Islamic country and ladies in particular should take care to dress modestly. Islamic festivals can cause significant changes to occur which affect tourists including the holy month of Ramadan when all street cafés close until 5.30pm each day as strict Muslims do not eat during the daylight hours. The main tourist hotels continue to serve food as normal but many shops will remain closed. During these times tourists will need to carefully check their tickets and any travel arrangements may need to be changed. Banks and larger shops will remain open between 9am and 3pm Monday to Friday. Drug offences are treated very seriously and those visiting the Rif Mountains should realise this is a major cannabis growing area. Visitors with Arabic Bibles or those involved in any perceived outreach activity may find they are subjected to prolonged interrogation.
The level of health care available in many of the main hotels and resorts is perfectly adequate but care should be taken if your illness necessitates admission. Communication in English may be difficult and many medications will be unavailable. Frequently small private hospitals are used where standards vary greatly. Check that your travel insurance provides adequate cover for repatriation if required.
Food & Water Facilities
The food and water provided in many of the main tourist resorts is very satisfactory but variations can easily occur and travellers should be careful at all times. Lettuce, undercooked bivalve shellfish (mussels, oysters, clams etc) and untreated water are all frequently implicated in sickness among travellers. Eating previously peeled fruit is also unwise and should be avoided. Bottled water purchased from main shops or hotels should be used for drinking and brushing your teeth.
Insect Bites & Mosquitoes
There is only a very small risk of malaria transmission throughout Morocco and prophylaxis is not recommended for the majority of tourists. However, sandflies do abound during the summer months and can transmit a nasty disease known as Leishmaniasis. These small flies tend to hover close to the ground in shaded areas and can easily bite without the individual noticing. It is essential to use good insect repellent when at risk and to report any slow healing bite or sore to a doctor after your return home.
The level of sun exposure in Morocco during the summer months can be intense. Take care to avoid the midday sun and use high sun blocking creams at all relevant times. Take particular care of children while in such a hot climate. Extra water and salt will be required to replace the amounts lost through perspiration. Salted crisps and nuts will be a useful source of salt.
Water Sports & Activities
Many tourist locations in Morocco offer extended water sport facilities for tourists. Always check out what the standard of care is before agreeing to take part. Ask tourists who arrived before you and check with your holiday representative if possible. Confirm that good safety procedures are in place and that your travel insurance covers any accidents as a result of your activities.
Traveller’s cheques and credit cards are accepted in many of the main tourist resorts. ATM machines are available in Casablanca and Rabat. It may be difficult to reconvert Moroccan money back to sterling and so care should be taken not to change too much initially until you clarify your expenses.
Travel by Train
To visit other parts of the country many travellers use the train journey south from Tangier. However, be wary of any invitation from fellow passengers to alight at Asilah rather than continuing the journey south. A number of tourists have been held hostage and forced to make credit card transactions or cash withdrawals before being freed.
Many tourists to Morocco hire motorbikes or cars to see more of the country. This is regarded as a high-risk activity and special care will be required at all times. Driving practices throughout Morocco are poor and traffic signals do not always function. Modern freeways link the main cities of Tangier, Rabat, Fez and Casablanca. Flash flooding can occur during the rainy season (November – March).
Rabies does occur in Morocco and it is essential that you avoid any and all contact with at risk animals. Typically this includes dogs, cats and monkeys but this viral disease can infect any warm-blooded animal. Take particular care to warn children to avoid animals and to report any contact as soon as possible.
There are no essential vaccines for entry into Morocco from Ireland. However most tourists are advised to consider adequate cover against:
Poliomyelitis (childhood booster)
Tetanus (childhood booster)
Typhoid (food and water disease)
Hepatitis A (food and water disease)
Those planning a longer or more rural trip will also need to consider cover against diseases like Hepatitis B and Rabies.
The majority of tourists visiting Morocco will remain very healthy and well. However, following simple precautions against food and water disease and sun exposure will be essential.
Travel News Headlines WORLD NEWS
Rabat, April 6, 2020 (AFP) - Wearing face masks in public will be obligatory in Morocco from Tuesday in a bid to stem the spread of coronavirus, according to an official decree. The decision was announced late Monday after a government meeting on how to control the epidemic. Morocco imposed a public health state of emergency on March 19, confining everyone to their homes except those with a permit to be out and about for their work.
Police, security agents and soldiers in armoured cars have been deployed around the country, erecting road barriers and control points. The official number of COVID-19 cases in Morocco has doubled in a week to 1,120, including 80 fatalities. The real numbers are likely to be significantly higher as there is a lack of testing gear in the country.
Rabat, March 24, 2020 (AFP) - Morocco has authorised hospitals to use antimalarial drugs in treating the new coronavirus, according to a document seen by AFP, as scientists urge caution over encouraging results from small trials. The Moroccan health ministry on Monday gave hospitals and regional health directors the green light to start using hydroxychloroquine and related compound chloroquine "in the care of confirmed COVID-19 cases".
In a message seen by AFP, it said that "efforts have been made to ensure the availability of these medicines", urging caution in how the stocks are managed. Rabat last week ordered the Moroccan branch of French drug maker Sanofi to hand over its entire stock of Nivaquine and Plaquenil, both of which contain chloroquine. Studies in France and China have found that the drug helped patients suffering from the COVID-19 illness, and France on Monday ordered its use in severe cases.
US President Donald Trump on Monday said chloroquine could be a "gift from God". He has been criticised by scientists for overhyping the drug, and on Monday the World Health Organization urged caution over its use. NBC later reported that a woman in Arizona who heard Trump talk about chloroquine ended up in hospital and her husband died after they took a form of chloroquine she had used to treat her koi fish. Authorities in Nigeria said hospitals had seen cases of chloroquine poisoning after Trump's comments. Experts have urged the public to remain cautious until larger clinical trials validate the smaller studies.
In its note, Morocco's health ministry said it took its decision after consulting with a scientific committee which recommended prescribing chloroquine along with another drug called azithromycine. Morocco's transport minister, Abdelkader Amara, who tested positive for the new coronavirus on March 14, has already said he was taking Nivaquine. "My health is stable. I have no fever or respiratory symptoms. The headaches are almost gone. I just feel a little tired," he told private radio station Medi 1. Morocco has recorded 143 cases of the COVID-19 illness, with four dead. The country has three screening centres and 1,642 intensive care beds for 35 million inhabitants.
By Hamza Mekouar with Sophie Pons in Rabat
Fnideq, Morocco, March 14, 2020 (AFP) - Thousands of tourists were stranded in Morocco on Saturday after the kingdom suddenly announced strict border restrictions in response to the coronavirus, leaving travellers stuck at borders, ports and airports. "We are lost!" said David, an Italian tourist waiting at the closed border with the Spanish enclave of Ceuta in northern Morocco.
Late on Saturday, Rabat announced a suspension of air links with 21 countries including Austria, Denmark, Greece, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland in Europe, as well Turkey and Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Oman, Tunisia, and the United Arab Emirates. Africa's Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal, and Canada and Brazil were also in the list. Morocco had already suspended air, sea and land links with European countries and Algeria on Friday, as well as taking measures to confine citizens to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Flights to and from Algeria, Spain, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal and Italy were suspended "until further notice", while sea links for passengers and Morocco's land borders with Ceuta and a second Spanish enclave, Melilla, were closed. But France announced that Rabat had agreed to allow repatriation flights for French nationals. "New flights are being organised to enable (stranded French tourists) to return to France," President Emmanuel Macron tweeted Saturday. The first flights back to France had already taken off that day, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said earlier.
The closure of the only land border between Africa and the European Union at Cueta and Melilla saw Spaniards rushing to leave on Thursday evening, as Moroccan day workers hastily returned in the opposite direction. The land borders are busiest in summer and the border sees regular traffic throughout the year. Now though a Moroccan police roadblock bars the road towards the border with Cueta.
- 'Who will pay?' -
David said he tried to go to Spain because links with Italy, a hotspot of the disease, are suspended. After arriving in Morocco for a motorcycle tour with his partner earlier this month, the 33-year-old Italian was stuck at a service station outside Cueta.
The border at Cueta, like that at Melilla, was reopened Friday only for Spaniards. The Spanish embassy in Morocco tweeted Saturday that ferries were still operating between the enclaves and mainland Spain. Its French counterpart also tweeted that "passage (into Ceuta and Melilla) is open to French ferry ticket holders with vehicles."
But except for a few travellers, the normally busy border post near the Moroccan town of Fnideq was deserted. At the service station, camper vans bearing various European license plates were parked waiting. "We don't know how long this will last, no one has told us anything," said Rene, a 71-year-old French man, speaking before Le Drian and Macrons' announcements. "The weather is good here, there's surely fewer cases of coronavirus in Morocco than in France," he said.
Moroccan authorities have reported 17 cases of COVID-19, including one death. France and Spain have together announced more than 210 COVID-19 deaths. Morocco's Transport Minister Abdelkader Amara has tested positive for the disease after an official visit to Europe, his ministry announced Saturday. On the Spanish side at Cueta, stuck Moroccans were wondering why their country would not let them back in. "If I need to get a hotel, who will pay?" asked a man hoping to return home.
At Tangiers port some 30 kilometres to the west, containers and trucks were unloaded as usual but the passenger terminal was closed. The busiest port in North Africa, the facility welcomed 568,000 foreign tourists in 2019, while some 473,000 entered from Cueta and Melilla, according to official figures. The travel restrictions are causing panic in the kingdom's tourism sector, which accounts for 10 percent of GDP and is a key source of foreign revenues.
By Ismail BELLAOUALI
AIT-BEN-HADDOU, Morocco, Feb 18, 2020 (AFP) - Millions worldwide may have seen the desert fortress in the hit fantasy series "Game of Thrones", but fewer know they can visit the Moroccan village of Ait-Ben-Haddou. The fortified old settlement at the foot of the majestic Atlas mountains enchanted audiences in the HBO series and also served as a dusty backdrop in Ridley Scott's epic swords-and-sandals film "Gladiator".
But unlike other famous locations from movie and television history, this UNESCO World Heritage Site has so far missed out on a mass influx of tourism -- something some of its inhabitants are eager to change. "Several people have told me that they came here to see the filming location of 'Game of Thrones'," said Ahmed Baabouz, a local tour guide. "There is tourism linked to cinema here but frankly we have not developed it to the extent it could be." Ait-Ben-Haddou is southern Morocco's most famous fortress. Time seems to have stopped at the site overlooking a valley some 30 kilometres (18.6 miles) from the town of Ouarzazate.
After passing through the imposing entrance way, visitors navigate a labyrinth of winding alleys that eventually lead onto a public square where the settlement's inhabitants once gathered. There is a mosque and two cemeteries -- one for Muslims and one for Jews. Most inhabitants have long since departed though, with a few homes converted into stalls selling handicrafts. The fortress is an ideal film setting, located a short distance from the studios of Ouarzazate, the "Mecca" of Moroccan cinema. Productions ranging from "Lawrence of Arabia" to "The Mummy" have been filmed here.
More recently, scenes from the cult series "Game of Thrones" were shot at Ait-Ben-Haddou, with the site standing in for the fictional Yellow City of Yunkai which is conquered by Daenerys Targaryen, a key character in the "GOT" universe. Hammadi, 61, is a privileged witness to the location's cinematic history. "All of these productions have contributed to the reputation of the region," he said, grinning widely. Hammadi himself has appeared as an extra in a number of films. And while like most people he lives in a more modern home in a village on the other side of the valley, he continues to return to Ait-Ben-Haddou to welcome tourists.
-'House of the Dragon' -
On a wall at the entrance to Hammadi's former home, photos bear witness to the projects he has worked on. One shows him dressed as an ancient Roman with director Ridley Scott on the set of "Gladiator". "We have a very rich cinematic heritage that we hope to use to attract tourists," said tour guide Baabouz, who is 29. But "nothing indicates that 'Game of Thrones' was shot here," he added. On Morocco's Atlantic coast, the city of Essaouira also formed the backdrop to scenes from the series. But there too, Moroccan tourism promoters are yet to capitalise on the connection.
In comparison, Northern Ireland, Malta and Dubrovnik in Croatia have attracted hordes of fans from around the world, drawn by their links to the franchise. To remedy this, Baabouz and other young people in the village are pooling their limited resources towards an ambitious project: a museum in the fortress, gathering photography from the productions that have been filmed here. US channel HBO has commissioned a prequel to "GOT", called "House of the Dragon". George R.R. Martin, the author of the books on which the series is based, wrote on his blog that shooting would also take place in Morocco.
Rabat, Feb 5, 2020 (AFP) - A record 13 million tourists visited Morocco in 2019, up 5.2 percent from the previous year, official figures showed Wednesday. The number includes Moroccans from the diaspora, who account for around half of visitors annually. Tourism revenues hit 78.6 billion dirhams ($8.16 billion) in 2019, up from 73.04 billion dirhams ($7.58 billion) the year before, the Moroccan Tourism Observatory said. It attributed the rise -- for the first crossing the 12-million mark -- to its primary markets, France and Spain.
The North African country has benefited from increased air links, with low-cost carriers launching new routes to Europe. The former imperial city of Marrakesh, with its UNESCO-listed Old Town, and Agadir on the coast together accounted for 57 percent of the 25.2 million hotel stays last year, the Observatory said. Tourism accounts for about 10 percent of GDP and is one of the country's main sources of foreign currency, alongside exports and remittances from Moroccans working abroad.
April 03, 2006
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: The British Virgin Islands (BVI) are a British overseas territory, part of the British West Indies, lying about 60 miles east of Puerto Rico. There are abo
ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: For tourist stays of up to six months, U.S. citizens need a valid U.S. passport or other proof of U.S. citizenship (original or certified birth certificate, Certificate of Naturalization or Certificate of Citizenship as well as photo identification), onward or return tickets, and sufficient funds for their stay. Upon initial entry, no more than 60 days will be granted. At the end of 60 days, visitors must report to the Immigration Department's main office in Road Town for an extension. Extensions of up to 90 days are issued at the discretion of the Immigration Officer subsequent to an interview. For further information on travel to the British Virgin Islands, travelers should contact the BVI Department of Immigration at 1-284-494-3471. Visit the Embassy of the British Government web site at
See Entry and Exit Requirements for more information pertaining to dual nationality and the international child abduction . Please refer to our Customs Information to learn more about customs regulations.
SAFETY AND SECURITY For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site, where the current Travel Warnings and Public Announcements , including the Worldwide Caution Public Announcement , can be found.
Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
The Department of State urges American citizens to take responsibility for their own personal security while traveling overseas. For general information about appropriate measures travelers can take to protect themselves in an overseas environment, see the Department of State's pamphlet A Safe Trip Abroad .
CRIME: Thefts and armed robberies do occur in the BVI. Visitors should take common-sense precautions against petty crime. Avoid carrying large amounts of cash and use hotel safety deposit facilities to safeguard valuables and travel documents. Do not leave valuables unattended on the beach or in cars. Always lock up boats when going ashore.
INFORMATION FOR VICTIMS OF CRIME: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.
See our information on Victims of Crime .
MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: Medical care in the British Virgin Islands consists of a small general hospital with an emergency room staffed 24-hrs/day by physicians, several clinics on Tortola, and one clinic in Virgin Gorda. Ambulances staffed with paramedics serve both islands. There are no medical facilities on the other islands. A volunteer organization, Virgin Islands Search and Rescue (VISAR), responds 24-hrs/day to medical emergencies at sea or on outer islands. VISAR transports casualties to the nearest point for transfer to ambulance. To reach VISAR, dial SOS (767) or call on Marine Channel 16.
There is no hyperbaric chamber in the BVI. Patients requiring treatment for decompression illness are transferred to St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands. Most sensitive medical cases are transferred to San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC's internet site at
MEDICAL INSURANCE: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. Please see our information on medical insurance overseas
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning the British Virgin Islands is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Vehicles drive on the left (the British side) with most steering wheels on the left (the "American" side). Road signs are limited and seatbelts are required by law. Drivers often fail to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians, even at painted crosswalks. Speeding and reckless driving are fairly common in the BVI. Drivers can encounter nighttime drag racing on main thoroughfares and livestock on roads. Roads in Tortola's interior can be steep and extremely slippery when wet. Travelers planning to drive across the island should consider requesting four-wheel drive vehicles and should ensure that tires and brakes are in good operating condition on any rental vehicle. Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information, as well as the website of the BVI's national tourist office and national authority responsible for road safety at
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of the British Virgin Islands as being in compliance with ICAO international aviation safety standards for oversight of BVI's air carrier operations. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA's Internet web site at
CUSTOMS REGULATIONS: BVI customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from the British Virgin Islands of items such as drugs and firearms. Visitors to BVI carrying firearms must declare them upon entry into any port in the territory. Firearms must be bonded and are held by the proper authorities until time of departure. Contact BVI Customs & Immigration at 1-284-494-3475, the Embassy of the United Kingdom in Washington, D.C. or one of the UK's consulates in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements. Please see our information on Customs Information .
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating British Virgin Island laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in the BVI are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States. Please see our information on Criminal Penalties .
DISASTER PREPAREDNESS: All Caribbean countries can be affected by hurricanes. The hurricane season normally runs from June to the end of November, but there have been hurricanes in December in recent years. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available via the Internet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency
CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children's Issues website.
REGISTRATION/EMBASSY AND CONSULATE LOCATIONS: Americans living or traveling in the British Virgin Islands are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department's travel registration website
This replaces the British Virgin Islands Consular Information Sheet dated April 26, 2005 to update all sections.
Travel News Headlines WORLD NEWS
At least 178 people on board became ill during the cruise, according to the cruise line and CDC. Sick patients were quarantined to their rooms, and other passengers said they no longer had access to buffet tongs as crew members handed out hand sanitiser. CDC health officials met the Caribbean Princess at the Bayport Cruise Terminal in Pasadena, Texas. The vessel launched on a 7-day cruise to the western Caribbean on [25 Jan 2014] and had been scheduled to return on Saturday [1 Feb 2014]. Princess Cruises said the outbreak was over by the time the ship returned to Houston. "As a result of our actions, case numbers declined significantly and by the end of the cruise there were no passengers with active symptoms," the company said. "Over the course of the cruise 178 passengers (5.7 per cent) and 11 crew (1 per cent) reported ill to the Medical Center."
- causative agent: Norovirus
- making multiple daily reports of gastrointestinal illness cases to the VSP;
[ProMED-mail does not normally report outbreaks of norovirus-related gastroenteritis because of their ubiquity during the winter months. (Hence the alternate designation 'winter vomiting bug'). Norovirus infection is very contagious and can be contracted from an infected person, contaminated food or water, or by touching contaminated surfaces. The virus causes acute gastroenteritis with stomach pain, nausea, and diarrhea and vomiting. Anyone can be infected with norovirus and acquire norovirus illness repeatedly throughout life. Norovirus is the commonest cause of acute gastroenteritis in the United States. Each year, it causes 19-21 million cases and contributes to 56 000-71 000 hospitalizations and 570-800 deaths. Norovirus is also the commonest cause of foodborne disease outbreaks in the United States. There's no vaccine to prevent norovirus infection and no drug to treat it.
[The following has been extracted from the US CDC document Travel-Associated Legionnaires' Disease (<http://www.cdc.gov/legionella/faq.htm>):
After 19 cases of suspected dengue fever -- and at least one death -- reported in the St Thomas-St John District, the VI Health Department issued a statement Friday [17 Sep 2010] saying that the district is experiencing a dengue fever outbreak. According to the Health Department statement released [Fri 17 Sep 2010], 9 of the 19 suspected cases have been laboratory-confirmed as dengue fever in the St Thomas-St John District since June . On St Croix, there have been 4 suspected cases with no confirmed cases. There is no requirement in the territory that people with suspected dengue fever undergo testing to confirm whether or not they have the mosquito-borne virus, said Health Department epidemiologist Eugene Tull.
His experience with a 2005 outbreak on St Croix leads him to believe that the number of dengue cases this year  is higher than reported, Tull said, adding that he is now receiving anecdotal information about more cases in the community. According to the release, the strain causing the current outbreak is [dengue virus] type 2, which was responsible for the 2005 outbreak on St Croix.
[An interactive HealthMap/ProMED-mail map showing the location of the Virgin Islands in the Caribbean can be accessed at
<http://healthmap.org/r/01tp>. - ProMed Mod.TY]
A St John woman who was transferred last week [week of 16 Aug 2010] to a Miami hospital with possible dengue fever symptoms died there 20 Aug  from complications, her husband said. VI [Virgin Islands] Health Department epidemiologist Eugene Tull said earlier this week [week of 23 Aug 2010] that he had no information about a possible death from dengue fever.
Health Department spokeswoman Eunice Bedminster said Thursday [26 Aug 2010] that the department was not aware of any deaths from the territory's dengue fever cases but had been investigating since receiving inquiries from reporters Monday [23 Aug 2010].
Tull said earlier this week that so far this year , there have been 8 confirmed, laboratory positive cases of dengue fever in the territory, 3 probable cases with lab results pending, and 15 suspected cases. All of those were in the St Thomas/St John District, except for 2 of the suspected cases, which were on St Croix, he said. [Byline: Joy Blackburn]
[The attribution of the woman's death to dengue virus infection is speculative. ProMED-mail awaits confirmation (or not) as further information becomes available. It is clear, however, that locally acquired dengue virus infections are occurring there.
Maps showing the location of the US Virgin Islands can be accessed at <http://www.worldatlas.com/webimage/countrys/carib.htm>. and the HealthMap/ProMED-mail interactive map at <http://healthmap.org/r/01tp> - ProMed Mod.TY]
Albania US Consular Information Sheet November 04, 2008
Albania is a parliamentary democracy that is transforming its economy into a market-oriented system. Albania's per capita income is among the lowest in Eu
A passport is required. All travelers entering or exiting Albania must have six months or more validity on their passport. Customs officers strictly enforce this law. U.S. citizens do not require a visa prior to entering Albania, but those traveling without a visa will be charged a fee for an entry stamp at the point of entry, which is valid for a stay of up to 90 days. This fee is currently 10 Euros, or the equivalent in any easily convertible currency, including U.S. dollars. Travelers without a visa who intend to stay in Albania for more than 90 days should be aware that Albanian law allows a traveler without a visa to remain in Albania for 90 days only within a specific 180-day period. That 180-day period is defined from the first day of entry. For example, a traveler entering without a visa on January 1 may remain in Albania for 90 days total during the period of time between January 1 and June 28. Departing Albania during this time period does not "restart the clock." Travelers attempting to reenter Albania without a visa and within 180 days of a previous entry and after an aggregate stay of 90 days may be denied entry. For stays exceeding 90 days within a 180-day period, those interested must apply for a Residency Permit at the police station with jurisdiction over the city of residence. Information on how to apply for a residency permit is available on the Embassy of Albania web site at http://www.embassyofalbania.org/. There is also a departure fee of ten Euros, or the equivalent in any easily convertible currency, including U.S. dollars. Visit the Embassy of Albania web site at http://www.embassyofalbania.org/consular.html#visa for the most current visa information. Dual Nationality: The Albanian government considers any person in Albania of Albanian parents to be an Albanian citizen. In addition to being subject to all Albanian laws affecting U.S. citizens, dual nationals may be subject to Albanian laws that impose special obligations. Male Albanian citizens are subject to compulsory military service regulations. If such persons are found guilty of draft evasion in Albania, they are subject to prosecution by the Albanian court. Those who might be affected should inquire at an Albanian Embassy or Consulate outside Albania regarding their status before traveling. In some instances, dual nationality may hamper U.S. Government efforts to provide protection abroad. Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our web site. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information sheet.
SAFETY AND SECURITY
Although the overall security situation in Albania has improved in recent years, organized criminal activity continues to operate in all regions, and corruption is pervasive. US Government employees need permission to travel to the northern administrative districts of Shkoder, Malesi E Madhe and Tropoje (with the exception of the route along the national road to Montenegro and the city of Shkoder) and to the southern town of Lazarat, with such travel restricted to secure vehicles with escort. Travel restrictions for U.S. Government employees have been lifted for overnight stays in the city of Shkoder. In most cases, police assistance and protection is limited. A high level of security awareness should be maintained at all times. Photographing anything that authorities regard as being of military or security interest may cause travelers problems. All gatherings of large crowds should be avoided, particularly those involving political causes or striking workers. For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs’ web site at http://travel.state.gov, where the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts, as well as the Worldwide Caution, can be found. Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S. and Canada, or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). The Department of State urges American citizens to take responsibility for their own personal security while traveling overseas. For general information about appropriate measures travelers can take to protect themselves in an overseas environment, see the Department of State’s A Safe Trip Abroad.
In the latest State Department assessment, Albania’s crime rating is “medium.” Crime against foreigners is rare in Albania, as targeting foreigners is often viewed as too risky. Visitors should maintain the same personal security awareness that they would in any metropolitan U.S. city. Caution should be exercised in bars in Tirana where violent incidents, some involving the use of firearms, have occurred in the past, particularly in the early morning hours. Within the last years there have been fewer cases of carjacking compared with previous years. Anyone who is carjacked should surrender the vehicle without resistance. Armed crime continues to be more common in northern and northwestern Albania than in the rest of the country. Street crime is fairly common in Albania, particularly at night. Criminals do not seem to deliberately target U.S. citizens or other foreigners, but do seek targets of opportunity, and select those who appear to have anything of value. Vehicle theft is still one of the biggest problems in Albania. Pick-pocketing is widespread; U.S. citizens have reported the theft of their passports by pick-pockets. INFORMATION FOR VICTIMS OF CRIME: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed. The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line is 129, though coverage is inconsistent at best. See our information on Victims of Crime.
MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION
Medical facilities and capabilities in Albania are limited beyond rudimentary first aid treatment. Emergency and major medical care requiring surgery and hospital care is inadequate due to lack of specialists, diagnostic aids, medical supplies, and prescription drugs. Travelers with previously diagnosed medical conditions may wish to consult their physicians before travel. As prescription drugs may be unavailable locally, travelers may also wish to bring extra supplies of required medications. Recent electricity shortages have resulted in sporadic blackouts throughout the country, which can affect food storage capabilities of restaurants and shops. While some restaurants and food stores have generators to properly store food, travelers should take care that food is cooked thoroughly to reduce the risk of food-borne illness. Water in Albania is not potable. Visitors should plan to purchase bottled water or drinks while in country. The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Albania. Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC’s web site at http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/default.aspx. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization’s (WHO) web site at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith/en
The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. Please see our information on medical insurance overseas.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS
While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Albania is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance. Major roads in Albania are often in very poor condition. Traveling by road throughout Albania is the most dangerous activity for locals and tourists. Vehicle accidents are the major cause of death, according to police statistics. Electricity shortages have resulted in sporadic blackouts throughout the country that can happen any hour of the day or night. Such outages affect traffic signals and street lights, making driving increasingly treacherous at any time of day. Travel at night outside the main urban areas is dangerous and should be avoided due to deplorable road conditions. During the winter months, travelers may encounter dangerous snow and icy conditions on the roads throughout mountainous regions in northern Albania. Buses travel between most major cities almost exclusively during the day, but they are often unreliable and uncomfortable. Many travelers looking for public transport prefer to use privately owned vans, which function as an alternate system of bus routes and operate almost entirely without schedules or set fares. Please note that many of these privately owned vans may not have official permission to operate a bus service and may not adhere to accepted safety and maintenance standards. Persons wishing to use privately owned vans should exercise caution. There are no commercial domestic flights and few rail connections. Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information. Visit the website of the country’s national tourist office at www.albaniantourism.com.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT
As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Albania, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Albania's Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards. For further information, travelers may visit the FAA's web site at http://www.faa.gov/safety/programs_initiatives/oversight/iasa SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Albania's customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Albania of some items. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Albania in Washington, D.C. or one of Albania's Consulates in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements. As noted previously, the Albanian government considers any person in Albania of Albanian parents to be an Albanian citizen. In addition to being subject to all Albanian laws affecting U.S. citizens, dual nationals may be subject to Albanian laws that impose special obligations. Male Albanian citizens are subject to compulsory military service regulations. See our information pertaining to dual nationality. Albania is a cash economy. Credit cards and travelers checks are not generally accepted, except at the major new hotels in Tirana and some international airline offices. Travelers' checks can be changed at banks in larger towns. Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) are available in most cities. Please see our Customs Information CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Albania’s laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Albania are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States. Please see our information on Criminal Penalties. Under Albanian law, police can detain any individual for up to 10 hours without filing formal charges. U.S. citizens are encouraged to carry a copy of their U.S. passports with them at all times to show proof of identity and U.S. citizenship if questioned by local officials.
For information see our Office of Children’s Issues web pages on intercountry adoption and international parental child abduction.
REGISTRATION / EMBASSY LOCATION
Americans living or traveling in Albania are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department’s travel registration web site and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Albania. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy is located at Rruga Elbasanit 103, tel. (355)(4) 2247285; fax (355)(4) 2232222. The U.S. Embassy web site is http://tirana.usembassy.gov/ * * * This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated June 10, 2008, to update sections on Entry and Exit Requirements, Medical Facilities and Health Information, and Traffic Safety and Road Conditions.
Travel News Headlines WORLD NEWS
By Briseida MEMA
Tirana, Nov 26, 2019 (AFP) - Six people died and some 150 were injured in Albania after the strongest earthquake in decades rocked the Balkan country early Tuesday, destroying buildings and burying victims in rubble.
The epicentre of the 6.4 magnitude quake was about 34 kilometres (about 20 miles) northwest of the capital Tirana, at a depth of 10 km, according to the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre. "We have victims," Prime Minister Edi Rama wrote on Twitter. "We are working to do everything possible in the affected areas." The quake struck at 3:54 am local time (0254 GMT) and sent panicked residents running out onto the streets of Tirana, with people huddling in the open, an AFP correspondent said.
The worst damage appeared to be around the coastal town of Durres. The quake was the strongest to hit this region since 1926, Albanian seismologist Rrapo Ormeni told local television. Three bodies were pulled from the ruins of damaged buildings in the port town, where a three-story hotel collapsed and other buildings were damaged, according to the defence ministry. The bodies of a man and a woman were uncovered in rubble in the nearby town of Thumane, the ministry said.
A man in his fifties died after he jumped out of his building in panic in the town of Kurbin, the defence ministry said. Some 300 armed forces personnel have rushed to Durres and Thumane for rescue operations, where "there are people trapped under the ruins", defence ministry spokeswoman Albana Qahajaj said.
In Thumane, around a dozen rescuers used an excavator to dig through a mountain of debris in search of possible victims. At least 150 people with injuries have sought first aid in Tirana and Durres, Health Minister Ogerta Manasterliu said.
- Trapped under rubble -
In Thumane, soldiers, rescuers and families were sifting through the rubble of a collapsed five-storey building as cries of people trapped under debris were heard, an AFP reporter said. Thoma Nika, a 58-year-old who lived in the building, said there were at least six people under rubble. Another man, Arben Allushi said with tears in his eyes, that his wife and niece missing after the building collapsed.
A man in Durres told local television that his daughter and niece were trapped in the rubble of a collapsed apartment building. "I talked with my daughter and niece on the phone. They said they are well and are waiting for the rescue. I could not talk to my wife. There are other families, but I could not talk to them," the man said.
The tremors were felt across the Balkan region, from Sarajevo to Bosnia and even in the Serbian city of Novi Sad almost 700 kilometres away, according to reports in local media and on social networks. It was followed by several aftershocks, including one of 5.3 magnitude, the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre said. It was described by authorities as the strongest earthquake in the last 20-30 years. The Balkans is an area prone to seismic activity and earthquakes are frequent.
Tirana, Sept 21, 2019 (AFP) - Albania was rattled by its strongest earthquake in decades Saturday, officials said, sending people fleeing into the streets in several cities, damaging buildings and triggering power cuts in the capital. The epicentre of the shallow 5.6-magnitude quake, was near Durres, less than 40 kilometres (25 miles) west of the capital Tirana, according to the US Geological Survey.
Albania's defence ministry said it was the "strongest earthquake in the country in the last 20 to 30 years". "There are no deaths," defence ministry spokeswoman Albana Qajaj said. Some 80 people sought medical help in both Tirana and Durres, 21 of whom were hospitalised due to injuries caused by falling objects or parts of walls as well as for panic attacks, Health Minister Ogerta Manasterilu said. Qajaj told AFP that houses and buildings in Tirana had been damaged but were still standing and that the ministry was accessing damage in other towns and villages. Prime Minister Edi Rama cancelled his scheduled trip to the United States following the quake, which cut electricity and telephone lines in Tirana and a number of other towns and villages.
Many people remained outside their homes for several hours in the capital, fearful of aftershocks. "I fear to return because such a strong earthquake could be followed with others," Drita Lohja, a resident in her fifties, told AFP. Falling debris pulverised parked cars in parts of the city. AFP reporters and witnesses saw windows broken and deep fissures in the facades of buildings in Durres, as well as in the capital. Media reported that a large building in Tirana was seriously damaged and that residents were being evacuated. A University of Tirana building was also damaged, witnesses said.
According to local media reports, at least two people were lightly injured and a dozen houses collapsed in the village of Helmes, 10 kilometres from Tirana. Two other earthquakes followed the strong one that occurred at around 4:00 pm (1400 GMT) and was felt in neighbouring Montenegro and Italy, but also on the Greek island of Corfu according to some Twitter users.
Tirana, March 9, 2018 (AFP) - The military has been deployed in northern Albania to help hundreds of people trapped by floods following heavy rainfall, authorities said on Friday. More than 9,230 hectares (22,800 acres) of agricultural land is underwater in the Shkodra region, including villages where the only means of transport is by boat, the defence ministry said.
Army personnel are evacuating residents and securing food supplies in the affected areas, 100 kilometres (60 miles) north of the capital, Tirana. The torrential rain in recent days has caused landslides damaging dozens of homes and flooding roads, said the transport ministry. The rain has also forced the Albanian authorities to release excess water from a hydroelectric plant, which has added to the flooding in northern areas of the country. Weather forecasters say the rain is likely to ease from Saturday.
Tirana, Dec 3, 2017 (AFP) - Thousands of police and soldiers have been deployed in Albania to rescue stranded residents after heavy rainfall triggered major flooding, and caused the death of a utility worker, officials and the power company said Sunday. The victim, Sabri Vlinga, died while he was working on a electricity pole at Roskovec in the flooded south of the country, the power company said in statement. Two other people were injured in similar accidents. it added. Some 6,400 police and soldiers have been sent to help rescue people stranded by the floods, Prime MInister Edi Rama said Saturday, calling the situation "very critical".
Around 1,500 people in the affected areas have been rescued, while several thousand homes were without electricity as many utility poles have been swept away by mudslides, said Shemsi Prenci, head of civil protection. More than 7,874 hectares (19,450 acres) of farm land as well as 3,193 homes are under water and several roads in the south remained impassable.
Army forces have built a temporary bridge at Darezeze, about 70 kilometres (44 miles) from the capital Tirana, to come to the aid of 2,000 residents stranded by the floods, the defence ministry said. In neighbouring Macedonia, the heavy rains have also caused flooding as several rivers include the main Vardar river have burst their banks, the MIA news agency reported.
World Travel News Headlines
By Mary Lyn Fonua
Nuku'alofa, Tonga, April 9, 2020 (AFP) - A resurgent Tropical Cyclone Harold flattened tourist resorts in Tonga Thursday, extending a week-long trail of destruction across four South Pacific island nations that has claimed more than two dozen lives. The cyclone gathered pace as it bore down on the tiny island kingdom, which declared a state of emergency, warning residents to seek shelter from destructive winds and massive sea surges.
By early Thursday it had again become a scale-topping Category Five superstorm -- surprising meteorologists after signs earlier in the week that its intensity was dropping. Packing winds of up to 260 kilometres per hour (160 miles per hour), it cut power in parts of the country and police said at least three tourist resorts north of the capital Nuku'alofa had been reduced to rubble.
The cyclone killed 27 people in the Solomons late last week before barrelling southeast to directly hit Vanuatu as a Category Five, obliterating entire towns in the northern provinces. There have been no reports of deaths in Vanuatu, Fiji or Tonga, with emergency workers saying residents in the hardest hit areas took shelter early. "It appears that many buildings and crops have been destroyed and some people in the most affected areas have lost everything," Red Cross Vanuatu secretary general Jacqueline de Gaillande said.
Harold weakened slightly to a still-formidable Category Four as it lashed Fiji on Wednesday but hopes the storm was dissipating were dashed as it regathered momentum heading towards Tonga. "It's been a tricky one to predict," meteorologist Bill Singh from New Zealand's Metservice told AFP. "We knew the track it was going to take but initially everyone thought it was just going to be Cat 3 or 4, but as it progressed over open warm waters it deepened."
- Closed borders -
The storm is expected to head away from Tonga onto the open ocean late Thursday but WeatherWatch.co.nz head forecaster Philip Duncan said there were no certainties. "It's almost unheard of to see a cyclone tracking south away from the equator, weakening, then suddenly returning back to Cat 5 so far south," he said.
The COVID-19 pandemic has complicated disaster relief efforts, with Vanuatu reluctant to open its international borders as it seeks to remain one of the few countries without any confirmed virus cases. "No foreign personnel are being brought to Vanuatu for response efforts at the present time, this will be an internally run operation," Vanuatu's National Disaster Management Office said.
Fiji has 15 virus cases and Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama said the virus and cyclone meant "our economy and our people have been dealt two body blows to start the year". "This storm must not compromise our coronavirus containment efforts, lest we risk damage far more painful than the aftermath of any cyclone," he said.
Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said an air force plane carrying essential supplies such as tents and water containers was on its way to Vanuatu, while assistance had also been offered to other impacted nations. "We are acutely conscious that this comes on top of the impact and difficulties created by COVID-19 for those countries," she said. Vanuatu said any supplies that came into the country would be handled with protective equipment and the air crews delivering them would be isolated in transit areas.
London, April 8, 2020 (AFP) - Britain on Wednesday reported a record 938 new COVID-19 deaths in its daily update, 152 more than its previous highest toll, as the total number of deaths passed 7,000. "As of 5pm on 7 April, of those hospitalised in the UK who tested positive for coronavirus, 7,097 have sadly died," the health ministry tweeted, up from 6,159 on Tuesday.
By Sofia CHRISTENSEN
Johannesburg, April 8, 2020 (AFP) - A pride of lions flops lazily across a track at a South African game reserve, enjoying newfound tranquility since last month's closure of all national parks to support an anti-coronavirus lockdown. Rather than the usual Land Rover, a lone elephant rumbles down the road, causing the felines to scatter into the surrounding bush. A vehicle stands in the background, live streaming the scene for thousands of people watching the animals from the comfort of their homes. "Since the lockdown occurred we have seen an amazing explosion in our audience," said Graham Wallington, head of a live safari broadcaster called WildEarth.
As the number of viewers tripled over the last days of March, Wallington noted that the audience -- typically American -- was increasingly from South Africa. "It just happened overnight because all these kids at home with their families are watching these live safaris," he told AFP. South Africa is almost two weeks into a 21-day lockdown meant to halt the spread of COVID-19. The country is the worst-affected in Africa, with more than 1,700 infections recorded so far, including 13 deaths.
WildEarth operates from two vehicles in two private game reserves bordering the internationally famous Kruger National Park. Guides take viewers along for a virtual game drive, finding wildlife and sharing facts about animals encountered along the way. The cameras are positioned at the back of the vehicles, where passengers would usually be seated, in order to create a real-life experience. "There it is," guide James Hendry whispered excitedly to the camera after stumbling across a mother hyena and her newborn cubs. "Tell me, have you ever seen anything that cute in your life before?" Participants can also send questions to the guides as they go along.
- Rare species emerge -
"You want to know how much water an elephant drinks in a day?" asked ranger Trishala Naidoo, as she drove along a bumpy bush track. "Around 100 litres if not more," she answered, before pulling over to show viewers a leopard tortoise crossing the road. Aside from providing entertainment, Wallington believes virtual safaris are an opportunity to observe how wildlife behave in the absence of tourists. "It's kind of an interesting time where the animals are being left alone," Wallington said, adding that rare species such as the endangered African wild dogs had started venturing into his areas. "Wild dogs coming in and hunting almost every day... is unheard of," he exclaimed. "It's because there is no one else there and they've got the run of the place for themselves."
Monrovia, April 8, 2020 (AFP) - Liberian President George Weah declared a state of emergency in the West African country on Wednesday, with the capital Monrovia set to go into lockdown in a bid to curb coronavirus. In a televised statement, the president said that all movement between Liberia's 15 counties would be banned from 11:59 pm on Friday, and that all non-essential businesses and government offices would close.
Residents of four counties -- including Monrovia's, which is home to about 1 million people -- must also stay at home for two weeks, he said. Authorities in those counties will allow people to leave their homes only to buy food or for health reasons. "We have to ask ourselves why we should abide by these measures. The answer is simple: to save lives," Weah said.
Wednesday's announcement escalates earlier health measures which banned large gatherings as well as flights to and from virus-stricken countries. As with other poor countries in the region, there are fears that Liberia is ill prepared to handle a large outbreak.
The nation of some 4.8 million has recorded 13 coronavirus cases to date, with three deaths. But Liberia was badly hit during the West Africa's 2014-16 Ebola crisis, which killed more than 4,800 people in the country. Weah warned that the coronavirus was the greatest threat facing Liberia since Ebola. "The horrific scenarios that are beginning to emerge should serve as sufficient warning for every one of us to spring into action," he said. Coronavirus "has already arrived in Liberia, and confirmed cases are now on the rise," Weah added. Decimated after back-to-back civil wars from 1989 to 2003, Liberia also suffers economic woes including rampant inflation and fuel shortages.
Cairo, April 8, 2020 (AFP) - Egypt will extend a nationwide night-time curfew by a further two weeks in a bid to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouli said on Wednesday. He told a news conference the measure would be enforced from 8:00 pm (1800 GMT) to 6:00 am and run until April 23. The curfew would start an hour later, he said, to avoid overcrowding in public transport. Schools and universities, as well as restaurants and cafes would also remain closed until then, while food outlets would be allowed to offer delivery services only. To stem the spread of the coronavirus, authorities have also halted air traffic until the end of the month and closed tourist and religious sites.
Penalties against violators including fines of up to 4,000 Egyptian pounds (just over $250) and even prison, the prime minister said. Madbouli also announced that cabinet members will take a 20 percent salary cut for three months, and allocate that sum to underprivileged Egyptians. Egypt's health ministry has so far declared 94 fatalities out of 1,450 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Authorities have in recent weeks carried out sweeping disinfection operations at archaeological sites, museums and other sites across the country. In tandem, strict social distancing measures were imposed to reduce the risk of contagion among the country's 100 million inhabitants.
Beirut, April 8, 2020 (AFP) - Millions in Lebanon risk food insecurity due to a coronavirus lockdown unless the government provides urgent assistance, Human Rights Watch warned Wednesday. Lebanon in mid-March ordered residents to stay at home and all non-essential businesses to close to halt the spread of COVID-19, which has officially infected 575 people and killed 19 nationwide. Before the pandemic erupted, Lebanon was struggling with its worst economic crisis in decades, with 45 percent of the population facing poverty according to official estimates. Lockdown measures to slow the spread of the virus have made matters worse with "millions of Lebanon's residents... at risk of going hungry", HRW said in a statement.
Lebanon is home to 4.5 million people, and also hosts around 1.5 million Syrians who have fled the nine-year war next door, most of whom rely on aid to survive. "The lockdown... has compounded the poverty and economic hardship rampant in Lebanon before the virus arrived," said HRW senior researcher Lena Simet. "Many people who had an income have lost it, and if the government does not step in, more than half the population may not be able to afford food and basic necessities."
The economic crisis since last year had already caused many people to lose their jobs or take salary cuts, and stay-at-home measures to counter the virus have now prevented even more from earning a wage. Media has carried reports of a taxi driver who set his car on fire after security forces fined him for breaking the lockdown rules. And an unemployed Lebanese construction worker unable to afford rent offered to sell his kidney, in an image widely shared online. HRW Lebanon researcher Aya Majzoub said many families are struggling due to a lack of savings.
The government has said it will pay out 400,000 Lebanese pounds (less than $150 at the market rate) to the most vulnerable. HRW said the government should also consider suspending rent and mortgage payments throughout the lockdown. Majzoub said Syrian refugees were also affected. "Many of them were seasonal workers -- they worked in agriculture, they worked in the service industry -- and they're not able to do that anymore," she said. But their ability to cope will depend largely on international aid, as before the pandemic.
The World Bank last week said it had re-allocated $40 million from its support to Lebanon's health sector to fight the virus, including for tests and ventilators. And it has also been discussing "assistance to help mitigate the impact of the economic and financial crisis on the poor through emergency social safety nets", World Bank spokeswoman Zeina El-Khalil told AFP in March. On Monday, Lebanon's President Michel Aoun urged the international community to provide financial assistance to back economic reforms.
Dublin, April 8, 2020 (AFP) - Irish police set up nationwide traffic checkpoints on Wednesday, armed with new powers to enforce a lockdown designed to stem the spread of the coronavirus. Emergency legislation passed in the Irish parliament two weeks ago allows the government to curb non-essential travel during the crisis.
People violating the ban risk a fine of up to 2,500 euros ($2,700) and/or six months in prison. "The regulations now are in effect," Garda -- Irish police -- commissioner Drew Harris said at a press conference. "People only should be moving if they have an essential reason to move throughout country. What we'll be doing is making sure that movement is essential."
Over 2,500 officers will be involved in the operation at any one time as it runs from noon Wednesday until midnight on Sunday, with an extension possible. "It will involve thousands of checkpoints every day," police said in a statement. The roadblocks have been put in place ahead of Easter holidays, traditionally used as an occasion for travel in Ireland.
Harris said nationwide compliance with the ban on movement -- which allows for exercise within two kilometres of home -- had been strong. But there is a "small minority and perhaps... an increasing number" in breach of the government order. There have been 210 COVID-19 related deaths and 5,709 confirmed cases of the virus in Ireland according to health department figures released Tuesday.
Tehran, April 8, 2020 (AFP) - Iran on Wednesday reported 121 new deaths from the novel coronavirus, bringing its overall number of fatalities to 3,993. In the past 24 hours, 1,997 new cases of COVID-19 infection were detected in Iran, state news agency IRNA quoted health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour as saying. That put the number of confirmed cases at 64,586, he added.
Iran, which announced its first COVID-19 cases on February 19, is by far the worst hit by the pandemic in the Middle East, according to official tolls. But there has been speculation abroad that the real number of deaths and infections in the country could be higher. Jahanpour said that while 3,956 patients were in critical condition, those who recovered had reached 29,812. The spokesman added that Iran had carried out 220,975 COVID-19 tests to date, according to IRNA. In a bid to halt COVID-19, Iran has ordered the closure of non-essential businesses and imposed inter-city travel bans, while refraining from a lockdown.
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said a "second wave" of the fight against the coronavirus would start from Saturday, and that it would be more difficult. "Low-risk" businesses would be allowed to reopen from Saturday, he said, because "we want to continue economic activities as much as possible while fighting coronavirus at the same time". The decision to reopen businesses has drawn criticism from health experts and even some government officials. But Rouhani said "there is no other way".
By Robbie COREY-BOULET
Addis Ababa, April 8, 2020 (AFP) - Ethiopia on Wednesday declared a state of emergency to fight the coronavirus pandemic, which has so far infected 55 people and resulted in two deaths there. It is the first state of emergency announced under Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who came to power in 2018 and won last year's Nobel Peace Prize in part for expanding political freedoms in the authoritarian nation. "Because the coronavirus pandemic is getting worse, the Ethiopian government has decided to declare a state of emergency under Article 93 of the constitution," Abiy said in a statement. "I call upon everybody to stand in line with government bodies and others that are trying to overcome this problem," he added, warning of "grave legal measures" against anyone who undermines the fight against the pandemic.
It was not immediately clear how the state of emergency would affect day-to-day life in Ethiopia. The government has so far refrained from imposing a lockdown similar to those in effect elsewhere in the region, including in Rwanda, Uganda and Mauritius.
According to the country's constitution, under a state of emergency the Council of Ministers has "all necessary power to protect the country's peace and sovereignty" and can suspend some "political and democratic rights". The constitution also says lawmakers need to approve a state of emergency, which can last for six months and be extended every four months after that.
Wednesday's decree is likely to "beef up security operations with a greater role for the ederal government, including the military," said William Davison, Ethiopia analyst for the International Crisis Group, a conflict-prevention organisation. "While this approach is understandable given the situation, it is critical that there is transparency over the government's extra powers and that there is adequate monitoring of implementation," Davison said.
-Opposition challenges move-
Since reporting its first COVID-19 case on March 13, Ethiopia has closed land borders and schools, freed thousands of prisoners to ease overcrowding, sprayed main streets in the capital with disinfectant, and discouraged large gatherings. But Abiy said over the weekend that a harsher lockdown would be unrealistic given that there are "many citizens who don't have homes" and "even those who have homes have to make ends meet daily." Jawar Mohammed, a leading opposition politician, said Wednesday this called into question why a state of emergency was necessary. "Officials have been saying the country is too poor to stop population movement. So why do you need a state of emergency if you are not planning to impose stricter rules?" Jawar told AFP.
During consultations with Abiy earlier this week, the opposition Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) voiced worries that a state of emergency would lead to human rights abuses -- a well-documented problem under previous states of emergency imposed during several years of anti-government protests that swept Abiy to power. "We explained our concern that the state of emergency has been initiated several times and it has been abused to violate the rights of citizens and other political activists," OLF chairman Dawud Ibsa told AFP. It's also unclear how the state of emergency might affect planning for hotly-anticipated general elections in Ethiopia.
The country's electoral board announced last week that voting planned for August would need to be postponed because of the pandemic. It did not provide a timeline for when the elections would ultimately be held, and lawmakers' constitutional mandates expire in October. Davison, with the International Crisis Group, said the state of emergency could be used "to formally postpone elections" past that deadline, though such a move risks sparking opposition backlash. "It is therefore essential that the government works with opposition parties on managing this constitutionally sensitive period and making new electoral arrangements," Davison said.
Madrid, April 8, 2020 (AFP) - Spain recorded Wednesday a second successive daily rise in coronavirus-related deaths with 757 fatalities, lifting the total toll in Europe's second-hardest-hit country after Italy by 5.5 percent to 14,555. The number of new infections rose by 4.4 percent to 146,690, the health ministry said, as Spain has ramped up its testing for the disease. The number of daily deaths, which peaked on Thursday at 950, rose for the first time on Tuesday after falling for four straight days.
But the rate of increase in both deaths and new infections on Wednesday was largely in line with that recorded the previous day, and half of what was recorded just a week ago. "We have consolidated the slowdown in the spread of the virus," Health Minister Salvador Illa tweeted after the latest figures were published. The Spanish government on March 14 imposed one of the toughest lockdowns in Europe to curb the spread of the virus, with people allowed out of their homes only to work, buy food and seek medical care.
The pandemic has stretched the country's public healthcare system close to breaking point, with a shortage of intensive care beds and equipments, but in recent days hospitals have said the situation has improved. "We have observed a de-escalation at this hospital in particular, and I believe at all hospitals," the spokesman for the Hospital Severo Ochoa in Leganes near Madrid, Jorge Rivera, told AFP. "We can't let down our guard, emergency services are now working below their full capacity and are working well, they are not saturated and overcrowded but it does not mean that we can relax and go to the emergency ward because you have an ailment."