United States of America
Updated: 25 July 2002
Most visits to the United States are trouble-free. However, visitors should continue to be vigilant about their personal security.
SAFETY AND SECURITY<
If staying in a hotel, do not leave your door open at any time.
Do not wear ostentatious jewellery and avoid walking in obviously run down areas.
If arriving at night, take a taxi to your hotel and collect your hire car the next day.
If departing on an evening flight avoid leaving luggage and souvenirs in view in your hire car during the day. Thieves are targeting these vehicles and stealing the contents.
Drive on main highways and use well-lit car parks.
Do not stop if your car is bumped from behind. Instead, indicate to the other driver to follow you to the nearest public area and call for police assistance.
Do not sleep in your car on the roadside or in rest areas.
LOCAL LAWS AND CUSTOMS
Travellers wishing to visit Canada during their stay should contact the Canadian Consulate and US Immigration and Naturalisation Service for entry clearance requirements. If travellers have 90 day visa waiver for US, they should not wait until the end of their stay to travel between US and Canada. Travellers must not overstay past expiration date of their visa as they may risk being denied entry in either country or be deported. Travellers need to carry passports, round trip airline tickets showing their confirmed departure for return from US or Canada to country of origin, and they may need to show proof of sufficient funds to cover their stay.
Travellers should be aware that the age of consent varies from state to state in the US, as does the age at which someone may legally buy and consume alcohol.
Foot and Mouth Disease:
Travellers are prohibited from carrying into the US any agricultural products, particularly animal products – including dairy products – that could spread FMD. (Some hard cheeses and canned meats are permitted. If you are in any doubt, you must check with a US customs or US Department of Agriculture (USDA) official immediately on arrival in the airport terminal). Passengers are required to tick the appropriate box on the US Customs declaration form if they have recently visited a zoo, or been on a farm or in contact with livestock. Passengers are specifically required to identify any farm contacts to US Customs and USDA officials. All luggage is subject to inspection. Penalties for not declaring farm visits or prohibited items can run to $1,000.
All US ports of entry and airports are on heightened alert to ensure that passengers, luggage and cargo are checked as appropriate. This includes placing additional inspectors and dog teams at airports to check incoming flights and passengers.
USDA are saying that soiled shoes, clothing or luggage will be disinfected on arrival. Food products and any other items suspected of potentially carrying the FMD virus will be confiscated and destroyed.
Medical treatment can be very expensive; there are no special arrangements for British visitors. The British Embassy and Consulates-General cannot assist with medical expenses.
Travellers who are HIV-positive
Travellers to the United States who are HIV-positive are not eligible, under current United States visa law, to travel visa free under the Visa Waiver Programme. They are required to apply for a visa and a waiver of the ineligibility before travelling. US immigration authorities state applicants’ details will remain confidential and an applicant’s HIV status will not/not be declared on their passport. For more details contact the US Embassy in London.
Comprehensive travel and medical insurance is essential.
Visitors to the United States will be aware of reports of large-scale wild and forest fires throughout the country. Those travelling to affected areas should be particularly vigilant and pay attention to advice from local authorities and press and radio announcements about personal safety and how to avoid starting fires. Further information can be obtained from the National Interagency Fire Centre, 3833 S. Development Avenue, Boise, Idaho, 83705-5354; tel: +1 208 387 5512; Website: www.nifc.gov
Travel News Headlines WORLD NEWS
By Sébastien DUVAL
Grand Canyon National Park , Etats-Unis, June 7, 2019 (AFP) - Attention, Grand Canyon visitors -- watch your step before attempting a selfie from the edge of the vertiginously deep and perilously steep US landmark. The national park surrounding the enormous canyon -- the second-most visited US national park, after the Great Smoky Mountains in the country's southeast -- has experienced a distressing surge in fatal accidents, with at least four visitors dying in as many weeks in March and April.
The views that draw millions to the park in the high Arizona desert are stunning, to be sure, both in their rich earth hues and in the sheer immensity of the gap cleaved over eons by the unceasing Colorado River as it winds sinuously through the canyon bottom. But the views can also distract or disorient visitors -- some of whom take risks despite park rangers' constant warnings -- and the result can be fatal. The body of a Japanese tourist was the first one found this spring, located in a wooded area some distance from the rocky cliffs. Then came three fatal falls, including that of a fifty-something tourist from Hong Kong who toppled over the edge while snapping photos.
The park has placed protective barriers at some popular vista points, but "we don't want to put barriers everywhere," park spokeswoman Kris Fister told AFP. "The specialness about parks is not being enclosed." "You don't have a barrier between you and this amazing place," she added, "but you have to pay attention." "We tell people to stay on the designated trails and walkways and to keep a safe distance from the rim" -- and of course, to pay attention when taking pictures, said Fister, dressed in the gray military-style shirt and khaki pants of a park ranger. "That's pretty common sense." But at the park's Mather Point, which offers especially scenic views not far from the visitor center on the canyon's South Rim, the message does not always get through. This natural vista point, the most heavily visited in the park, may be the spot in the US most often captured in visitors' selfies.
From here to the canyon's North Rim is a distance of 10 miles (16 kilometres). There are protective barriers. But not far away, a young woman ventures to the very edge of the cliff. "We can see well enough from here," British tourist Kathryn Kelly sniffs dismissively, looking at the risk-taking woman. "I don't see the point stepping closer to the edge." "I heard of a man who died trying to take a selfie, and I'm struggling to feel sorry for him," Kelly said. "It's a kind of natural selection."
- Heat, suicides, snakebites -
Of the dozen people who, on average, die each year in the canyon, relatively few fall to their deaths, according to park service statistics. Most deaths are linked to the dramatic change in altitude and to dehydration in the crushing summer heat faced by hikers -- despite the frequent warning signs that say things like "Don't become a statistic" and "Down is optional, up is mandatory."
But for those who make it to the bottom of the canyon, near the turbulent, muddy waters of the Colorado, Phantom Ranch offers a welcome oasis, a place to rest and spend the night after long, draining hours of hiking. Among the books on a shelf in the ranch's dining room is one that lists every death registered in the park: "Over the Edge: Death in Grand Canyon." Falls, flash flooding, drowning, storms, snakes, suicides, even murders … there are as many ways to die in the Grand Canyon as there are ways to photograph (and of course Instagram) it.
Jim Stanley, a 71-year-old from Michigan, read the book before taking on this dangerous wonder of nature, where nearly seven million visitors are expected this year for the 100th anniversary of Grand Canyon's classification as a national park. "I haven't been discouraged; I'm now aware of the risks," he said, his hiking pants proudly held up by a pair of suspenders in the red, white and blue of the American flag. "Too many people take the Grand Canyon for granted," he added. "But it's not Disneyland."
There has always been an element of mystery, or mysticism, surrounding the park and its awe-inspiring landscape. The numerous accidental deaths in its vast territory through the years have even given rise to a sort of earthbound Bermuda Triangle vibe. Two airplanes once collided above the canyon, claiming 128 lives in what, at the time, was the worst commercial aviation accident in US history. That was in 1956, long before the advent of the selfie.
Washington, June 5, 2019 (AFP) - The number of measles cases in the United States this year has reached 1,001, health officials said Wednesday, as they vowed to stop the spread of misinformation about vaccines. The announcement comes days after authorities declared the US was in danger of losing its "elimination status" on the contagious respiratory disease if the current outbreaks continue. "The 1,000th case of a preventable disease like measles is a troubling reminder of how important" it is to ensure that people understand that vaccines are safe, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement.
Azar vowed to "continue our efforts to support local health departments and health care providers in responding to this situation, with the ultimate goal of stopping the outbreak and the spread of misinformation about vaccines." "We cannot say this enough: Vaccines are a safe and highly effective public health tool that can prevent this disease and end the current outbreak." The previous record number of cases came in 1992 when 963 cases were reported across the year -- a figure now surpassed in less than the first six months of 2019.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) were giving health care providers guidelines for recognizing and preventing measles, and developing a toolkit for physicians to counter misinformation, Azar said. Authorities declared measles eliminated in the US in 2000, a goal set in 1966 with the introduction of the vaccine. Measles is considered eliminated when there is an absence of continuous disease transmission for 12 months or more in a specific geographic area, according to the CDC.
An ongoing outbreak in and around New York that started last fall is threatening the nation's "elimination status" -- if it continues for four more months, the country will no longer be able to say it has eliminated measles. Even though New York city officials began requiring residents in heavily affected areas, many with large Orthodox Jewish communities, to be vaccinated starting in April, the city still had 173 cases that month and 60 in May. The US has never counted zero measles cases.
Since 2000, the number has fluctuated between a few dozen and a few hundred cases per year, with 667 cases recorded during a 2014 outbreak in Ohio, especially in Amish communities. The disease's resurgence can mostly be traced back to un- or under-vaccinated travelers who brought the infection back with them from abroad -- that's what happened last year when cases were reported throughout the country, originating from the Philippines, Israel and Ukraine.
The mother of a Southern California girl diagnosed with rat bite fever is sharing her story at a San Diego hospital Fri 31 May 2019 to educate other parents about the danger. Rat bite fever is a potentially deadly infection spread through contact with domestic rats. An 8 year old from Menifee contracted the disease when the rat's saliva came into contact with an open wound, according to Rady Children's Hospital officials. The girl has eczema on her fingers, which may have contributed to the situation, a doctor said.
Rat bite fever is a bacterial disease which can cause a rash, fever, and body aches. The illness started on Friday night, 24 May 2019, said the girl's mother. By Sun 26 May 2019, there was a fever of 104.6 F [40 C]. She lost the ability to use her hands and arms and had a whole-body rash. "Really, really scary. Really hard to watch," said the mother.
The family bought 2 rats, Shell and Onyx, from a feed store about 2 years ago with no warning about the potential of rat bite fever. Doctors recommended the family get rid of their rats. "We didn't want to do it," said Sabrina. "It's not a fun thing to tell your kid you've got to get rid of your best friend." The mother had a recommendation for other parents. "Just know that this can happen," she said. "Wash your hands." [byline: Allison Horn]
World Travel News Headlines
A volcano on the Indonesian island of Bali erupted Friday, spewing a plume of ash and smoke more than 2,000 metres (6,500 feet) into the sky. Mount Agung, about 70 kilometres from the tourist hub of Kuta, has been erupting periodically since it rumbled back to life in 2017, sometimes grounding flights and forcing residents to flee their homes.
The latest eruption shortly before noon on Friday shot a cloud of volcanic ash high into the sky, but caused no disruption to flights, Indonesia's geological agency said. Agung remained at the second highest danger warning level, and there is a four-kilometre no-go zone around the crater.
Last summer, dozens of flights were cancelled after Agung erupted, while tens of thousands of locals fled to evacuation centres after an eruption in 2017.
The last major eruption of Agung in 1963 killed around 1,600 people.
Indonesia is situated on the Pacific "Ring of Fire", a vast zone of geological instability where the collision of tectonic plates causes frequent quakes and major volcanic activity.
Heatwaves across India have exacted heavy casualties this year, including dozens of deaths by sunstroke and other heat-related causes. The deaths have been mainly reported from states like Maharashtra (particularly Vidarbha), Andhra Pradesh (mainly Rayalseema) and Telangana, due to the temperature extremes in these regions. What's worrying is, a study suggests that the heatwave conditions are likely to increase from next year and continue till 2064 because of El Niño Modoki and depletion in soil moisture. Here's how the heatwave is taking a toll in the above states.
Parts of Maharashtra have been reeling under high temperatures accompanied by severe heatwave condition during this summer. According to a report in The Times Of India, a 50-year old man in Beed succumbed to death because of heatstroke recently, taking the overall number to 8. Reports show a total of 456 cases of heat-related illnesses in Maharashtra this summer. Last year, the number of cases reported was 568. However, the death toll this year is more than last year's figure of 2 victims.
Regions like Nagpur and Akola show the most number of deaths and illnesses in the Vidarbha region. About 163 cases of heat-related illness were reported in Nagpur and 76 ailments were reported in Latur region. Recently, Chandrapur in Maharashtra (which lies 150km south of Nagpur) registered a day temperature of 48°C, the highest recorded in India this summer.
Parts of Andhra Pradesh have been experiencing temperatures of 45°C and more since the last few days. These conditions have persisted in the state after the heavy rains caused by Cyclone Fani.
Three people have died in Andhra Pradesh due to heat-related causes this year. Also, 433 people have been diagnosed with heatstroke. Earlier this month, electrical transformers had blown up in many parts of Krishna and Guntur districts, disrupting power supply for more than five hours and intensifying the effects of heatwave conditions and the severe temperatures.
In 2015, Andhra Pradesh experienced the most number of heat deaths in the country: 1,369 people died that year from heat-related illnesses.
Seventeen people have succumbed in Telangana over the last 22 days. However, the number of unconfirmed deaths is expected to be higher. The region saw 541 heat-related deaths in 2015, and 27 in 2018. The farmers and those who work in the sun are usually the ones to be affected the most by high temperatures and heatwave conditions.
As heat blankets the country, make sure you stay protected. Follow official guidelines and do not step out in the Sun, especially in the afternoon hours, unless absolutely necessary.
(With inputs from The Times Of India.)
Kampala, 11 June 2019 - The Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO) have confirmed a case of Ebola Virus Disease in Uganda. Although there have been numerous previous alerts, this is the first confirmed case in Uganda during the Ebola outbreak on-going in neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The confirmed case is a 5-year-old child from the Democratic Republic of the Congo who travelled with his family on 9th June 2019. The child and his family entered the country through Bwera Border post and sought medical care at Kagando hospital where health workers identified Ebola as a possible cause of illness. The child was transferred to Bwera Ebola Treatment Unit for management. The confirmation was made today by the Uganda Virus Institute (UVRI). The child is under care and receiving supportive treatment at Bwera ETU, and contacts are being monitored.
The Ministry of Health and WHO have dispatched a Rapid Response Team to Kasese to identify other people who may be at risk, and ensure they are monitored and provided with care if they also become ill. Uganda has previous experience managing Ebola outbreaks. In preparation for a possible imported case during the current outbreak in DRC, Uganda has vaccinated nearly 4700 health workers in 165 health facilities (including in the facility where the child is being cared for); disease monitoring has been intensified; and health workers trained on recognizing symptoms of the disease. Ebola Treatment Units are in place.
In response to this case, the Ministry is intensifying community education, psychosocial support and will undertake vaccination for those who have come into contact with the patient and at-risk health workers who were not previously vaccinated.
Ebola virus disease is a severe illness that is spread through contact with the body fluids of a person sick with the disease (fluids such as vomit, faeces or blood). First symptoms are similar to other diseases and thus require vigilant health and community workers, especially in areas where there is Ebola transmission, to help make diagnosis. Symptoms can be sudden and include:
- Muscle pain
- Sore throat
The investigational vaccine being used in DRC and by health and frontline workers in Uganda has so far been effective in protecting people from developing the disease, and has helped those who do develop the disease to have a better chance of survival. The Ministry strongly urges those who are identified as contacts to take this protective measure.
Investigational therapeutics and advanced supportive care, along with patients seeking care early once they have symptoms, increase chances of survival.
The Ministry of Health has taken the following actions to contain spread of the disease in the country:
- The District administration and local councils in the affected area have been directed to ensure that any person with Ebola signs and symptoms in the community is reported to the health workers immediately and provided with advice and testing.
- The Ministry of Health is setting up units in the affected district and at referral hospitals to handle cases if they occur.
- •Social mobilization activities are being intensified and education materials are being disseminated.
There are no confirmed cases in any other parts of the country.
The Ministry is working with international partners coordinated by the World Health Organization.
The Ministry of Health appeals to the general public and health workers to work together closely, to be vigilant and support each other in helping anyone with symptoms to receive care quickly. The Ministry will continue to update the general public on progress and new developments.
Lima, June 10, 2019 (AFP) - Peru has declared a health emergency in five regions, including Lima, after the deaths of at least four people linked to Guillain-Barre syndrome, an autoimmune disorder that attacks the nervous system. Health Minister Zulema Tomas said Sunday that in addition to the deaths there were currently 206 cases of the disease. "We have an outbreak, there has been a brusque increase" since June 5, Tomas said on state-run TV Peru, adding that health authorities were taking steps to control and contain the disease.
While the syndrome is not contagious, a 90-day health emergency was declared because the current cases "have unusual and atypical characteristics that require rapid or immediate initial treatment," Peru's Institute of Neurological Sciences said. The precise cause of the disorder is unknown, but most cases develop after a person has been sick with diarrhoea or a respiratory infection.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the US says its research suggests that the syndrome is "strongly associated" with the Zika virus, a mosquito-borne illness. The regions affected by GBS include three on the country's northern coast -- Piura, Lambayeque, La Libertad -- tourist destinations known for their archaeological sites and beaches. Also included was the central region of Junin and Lima, which has nine million inhabitants. Two deaths were reported in Piura, one in La Libertad and another in Junin.
Madrid, June 10, 2019 (AFP) - Three tourists have fallen from their hotel balconies in Spain's Balearic Islands in recent days, one of them dying on impact, police said Monday as the summer season in the party archipelago begins. The incidents came as Britain's foreign office warned holidaymakers heading to Spain against "balcony falls" and asked them not to "take unnecessary risks... particularly if you're under the influence of drink or drugs." On Friday in Magaluf, a party resort notorious for its booze-fuelled tourism, a 19-year-old British man fell to his death from the second floor of his hotel, Spain's Civil Guard police force said.
A spokesman said police were looking at two theories -- either "he threw himself off voluntarily, or he fell by accident." He did not know whether the victim had consumed drugs or alcohol. On Thursday, a 35-year-old German man fell from the second floor of his hotel too, this time in Palma de Majorca, and was seriously injured, police said. A source close to the probe, who declined to be named, said the man had drunk, dozed off, woken up and subsequently fallen from the balcony, possibly disorientated. And on Monday, an Australian man in his early thirties fell from the second floor of his hotel in Ibiza and was seriously hurt, police said, without giving further details.
Balcony falls happen every year in the Balearic Islands and other party resorts in Spain, most of them due to excessive drinking or drug-taking/ Some are accidental slips, while others happen when tourists miss while trying to jump into pools or onto another balcony -- a practice known as "balconing." The British foreign office's online travel advice for Spain has an entire section warning against "balcony falls". "There have been a number of very serious accidents (some fatal) as a result of falls from balconies," says the website. "Many of these incidents have involved British nationals and have had a devastating impact on those involved and their loved ones."
Sydney, June 10, 2019 (AFP) - Australian police said Monday they were scouring bushland for a Belgian teenage tourist missing in a popular surf town for more than a week. Theo Hayez, an 18-year-old backpacker, was last seen on May 31 at a hotel in the coastal tourist town of Byron Bay -- some 750 kilometres (470 miles) north of Sydney -- New South Wales state police said. "We have a large amount of resources searching... in bushland that is towards the east and northeast of the town," police Chief Inspector Matthew Kehoe said in a statement. "We are advised that this disappearance is completely out of character for him." Police said they were alerted to his disappearance on Thursday after he failed to return to a hostel he was staying in. Hayez's passport and personal belongings were all left at the hostel, and police believe he had not made any financial transactions since his disappearance or used his mobile phone.