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This large island is situated off the coastland of China and has been ruled separately since a civil war in 1949. Nevertheless, China is exerting significant pressure on the Taiwan government to ensure that the island returns under full Chinese rule. Mala
ia prophylaxis is not required. The capital of Taiwan is Taipei. This is a typical bustling Asian city with a significant pollution problem associated with cars and scooters. The climate is hot and humid for much of the year. Mains electricity is 110v using the small American style plugs.
Despite the American influences throughout Taiwan it is worth knowing that the level of understanding of English is very poor outside the major hotels. Taxi drivers (cheap and worthwhile if any distance is involved) will understand almost no English so it is essential that you have the name of your hotel written in Chinese with you at all times.
In Taipei, the shops and banks tend to open later than might be expected. Typically banks open at about 9am and many shops at 10am or later. On early arrival at Taipei airport the banks may not be open and so it is important to change money in your hotel if possible.
There is a wide variety of food available within the main urban areas ranging from the quick foods (MacDonalds etc) to the traditional Chinese restaurants) The cost of meals would be similar to most European countries.
Taiwan US Consular Information Sheet
August 18, 2008
The Department of State provides information to assist travelers in better understanding foreign locations they may visit and the known risks that they should consider.
Travelers traveling to Taiwan are encouraged to inform themselves about Taiwan prior to commencement of travel.
It is the traveler’s responsibility to obtain a U.S. passport from the Department of State and the appropriate visas from the Taiwan Economic and Cultural Representative’s Office (TECRO) in Washington, D.C., or the nearest office of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO).
When making reservations, travelers should discuss cancellation policies with their travel agent, travel insurer or airline, as scheduled trips abroad may be nonrefundable.
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; Medicare does not cover medical expenses abroad.

Taiwan is a stable democracy with a strong and well-developed economy.
Tourist facilities are widely available.
Read the Department of State Background Notes on Taiwan for additional information.

U.S. passport holders will be allowed to enter Taiwan without a visa for up to thirty days (no extensions or change of status allowed) if they have a passport valid for at least six months from the date of entry into Taiwan and a confirmed return or onward air ticket.
Travelers must have already met any additional visa requirements for the next destination, if applicable.

Visitors with passports valid for less than six months from the date of entry into Taiwan must apply for a landing visa, which has a duration of stay of no more than 30 days, or until the passport’s expiration date, whichever comes first.
Extensions are not permitted.
Travelers who apply outside of Taiwan at Taiwan Overseas Missions for a landing visa will be charged a processing fee of US $131.
Travelers who apply for a landing visa upon arrival in Taiwan will be charged NT $4,900.
This fee includes a NT $800 service charge and can be paid only in Taiwan currency.

U.S. travelers planning to visit longer than 30 days may apply for and receive a visitor visa at one of the Taiwan Overseas Missions.
The processing fee is U.S. $131; an additional $65.50 will be charged for expedited processing.
Travelers arriving in Taiwan with a valid passport and valid Taiwan visa may be admitted for up to 60 days for multiple entries even if their passports are valid for less than 6 months.

For specific information about application, entry requirements and fees, travelers should contact the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO), 4201 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Washington, DC
20016-2137, via either its main telephone number, (202) 895-1800, or its visa section telephone number, (202) 895-1814.
TECRO's visa website is
The main fax number at TECRO is (202) 363-0999, and the visa section fax number is (202) 895-0017.
TECO (Taipei Economic and Cultural Office) also has offices in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Guam, Honolulu, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco and Seattle.

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.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department’s Internet web site at where the current Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, and Travel Alerts can be found.
Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the United States and Canada, or for callers outside the United States 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 Standard 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.

Public Demonstrations:
Taiwan is a modern democracy with vibrant public participation.
Political demonstrations are common, especially around election time.
Since Taiwan democratized in the early 1990s, there have been very few cases of violence associated with political demonstrations.
But even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational.
American citizens are therefore urged to avoid the areas of demonstrations, and to exercise caution if within the vicinity of any political demonstrations.

Although the overall violent crime rate in Taiwan is relatively low, travelers should avoid high crime areas, such as areas where massage parlors, illegal "barbershops," and illegal "nightclubs" run by criminals prevail.
In contrast to their counterparts, legal barbershops prominently display the usual grooming services.
Illegal nightclubs have no advertisement and are publicized by word of mouth only.
Public transportation, including the buses and the subway, is generally safe in Taiwan, but women should exercise caution when traveling alone in taxis late at night.
In several parts of Taiwan, incidents of purse snatching by thieves on motorcycles have been reported.

In many countries around the world, counterfeit and pirated goods are widely available.
Transactions involving such products may be illegal under local law.
In addition, bringing them back to the United States may result in forfeitures and/or fines.
More information on this serious problem is available at

The emergency telephone number for Taiwan services (ambulance, fire, police) is 119.
Taiwan Police offers a 24-hour telephone line for foreigners in English:

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the National Immigration Agency and to American Institute in Taiwan (AIT)-Taipei or AIT-Kaohsiung.
The National Immigration Agency has foreign affairs sections that are usually staffed by English-speaking officers.
National Immigration Agency contact numbers for the major cities in Taiwan are as follows: Taipei (02) 2389-9983, Kaohsiung (07) 282-1400, Tainan (06) 293-7641, Taichung (04) 2254-9981, Taitung (089) 342-251, Pingtung (08) 721-6665.

If you are the victim of a crime while in Taiwan, in addition to reporting to the local police, contact AIT-Taipei (02) 2162-2000 or AIT-Kaohsiung (07) 238-7744 for assistance.
AIT’s consular staff can, for example, help you find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends, and explain how funds can be transferred.
Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help explain the local criminal justice process and assist with finding an attorney if needed. See our information on Victims of Crime.

Health facilities in Taiwan are adequate for routine and emergency medical treatment.
Physicians are well trained and many have studied in the U.S. and speak English.
State-of-the-art medical equipment is available at many clinics and hospitals.
Hospitals’ nursing services provide medication dispensing and wound care, but generally not the daily patient maintenance functions found in U.S. hospitals.
Ambulances are available in Taiwan but are not like those in the U.S.
There are no trained Emergency Medical System Technicians accompanying an ambulance, unless within 2 kilometers of National Taiwan University Hospital or Veterans General Hospital.
For information on specific clinics and hospitals, please refer to the AIT web page at
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); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via the CDC’s Internet site at
For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization’s (WHO) web site at
Further health information for travelers is available at

English speakers experiencing a personal crisis in Taiwan can contact the Community Services Center in Taipei ( at (02) 2836-8134 or (02) 2838-4947 to arrange counseling or to contact a support group.

The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Taiwan.
However, persons staying over 90 days or applying for residency or work permits must be tested for HIV/AIDS.
Doctors and hospitals in Taiwan expect immediate cash payment for health services, although some private clinics may accept credit cards.
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.

While outside the United States, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States.
The information below concerning Taiwan is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Roads in Taiwan's major cities are generally congested, and the many scooters and motorcycles that weave in and out of traffic make driving conditions worse. Special caution should be taken when driving on mountain roads, which are typically narrow, winding, and poorly banked, and which may be impassable after heavy rains.

Pedestrians should exercise caution when crossing streets because many drivers do not respect the pedestrian's right of way.

Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information.
The national authority responsible for road safety in Taiwan is the Traffic Safety Committee, MOTC. Information regarding road safety may be found on their web site at

For general information on tourism in Taiwan information may be found at (Taiwan Tourism Bureau - Ministry of Transportation and Communication).

For specific information concerning Taiwan's driver's permits, vehicle inspection road tax and mandatory insurance, contact the nearest TECO office.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed Taiwan's Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Taiwan's air carrier operations.
For more information, visit the FAA’s Internet web site at

Because of the need for early detection and prevention of communicable diseases, all arriving passengers are scanned with an infrared thermal apparatus to test for elevated temperatures.
Passengers with elevated temperatures are required to fill out the Communicable Disease Survey Form and will then be evaluated for additional testing and/or follow up with local health authorities.

Customs Regulations:
Taiwan customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary import or export of items such as: firearms, antiquities, medications, currency, ivory, etc.
It is advisable to contact the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECRO) in Washington or one of the TECO offices in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements.
Please see our information on customs regulations.

Disaster Preparedness:
Taiwan is subject to strong earthquakes that can occur anywhere on the island.
Taiwan is also hit by typhoons, usually from July to October.
Travelers planning a trip to Taiwan can obtain general information about natural disaster preparedness on the Internet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at
Additional information about currently active typhoons can be obtained on the University of Hawaii tropical storm page at
The Central Weather Bureau of Taiwan also maintains a web site that provides information about typhoons and earthquakes.
Its Internet address is

Dual Nationality and Compulsory Military Service:
Taiwan law provides for compulsory military service.
Men between the ages of 18 and 36 who were born in Taiwan or who have ever held a Taiwan passport should be aware that they may be subject to compulsory military service in Taiwan, even if they are also U.S. citizens, and even if they have entered Taiwan on U.S. passports.
Potentially affected individuals are urged to consult with the nearest office of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in the United States before visiting Taiwan to determine whether they are subject to the military service requirement.

English Language Programming:
The International Community Radio Taipei (ICRT) provides all of Taiwan with English-language programming 24 hours a day.
In the event of an emergency or an approaching typhoon, travelers in the Taipei and Kaohsiung areas should tune their radios to FM 100.7 for English-language updates.
Travelers can find ICRT in Taichung at FM 100.1.
Travelers can listen to ICRT's live broadcasting on the Internet at
TV news in English is available on channel 53 at 6:00 a.m. and at 11:45 pm on Formosa Television, or at its web site
The three main English-language daily newspapers published in Taiwan are Taipei Times, Taiwan News and China Post.
In addition to the print versions, readers can read their content online at, and

Judicial Assistance:
Judicial assistance is provided by authorities on Taiwan in response to letters rogatory from foreign courts in accordance with Taiwan's "Law Governing Extension of Assistance to Foreign Courts."
For further information regarding judicial assistance in Taiwan please go to the following website:

AUTHORITY - 22 U.S.C. 3306(b) provides acts performed by officers of the American Institute in Taiwan under 22 U.S.C. 3306 are valid, as if performed by any other person authorized under the laws of the United States to perform such acts (consular officers).
The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) is a nonprofit corporation under the laws of the District of Colombia.
22 U.S.C. 3305, 3306(a)(3).
The judicial assistance acts of AIT personnel parallel the acts performed by U.S. consular officers under 28 U.S.C. 1781 (a)(2).
See Sec. 1-201(h) of Executive Order No. 12143, 44 Fed. Reg. 37191 (June 23, 1979).
Pursuant to Section 10(a) of the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), 22 U.S.C. 3309(a), the Taiwan Economic Cultural Representative's Office ("TECRO") is the instrumentality established by the people of Taiwan having the necessary authority under the laws of Taiwan to take actions on behalf of Taiwan in accordance with the Act.

While outside the United States, a U.S. citizen is subject to local 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 those in the United States for similar offenses.
Persons violating Taiwan’s laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. In Taiwan, either side has the right to appeal a court decision, sometimes necessitating a second or even a third trial.
Americans contemplating visiting or residing in Taiwan should note that judges have discretionary authority to prevent defendants from leaving Taiwan until all appeals have been exhausted.
Americans have been barred from leaving Taiwan for extended periods, even in cases that involved only nominal civil damages or fines. .
Penalties for possession of, use of, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Taiwan are severe and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.
Engaging in illicit sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign state 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.

The American Institute in Taiwan is authorized by law to perform American citizen services.
Americans living or traveling in Taiwan are encouraged to register with AIT through the State Department’s travel registration web site, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Taiwan.
Americans resident in Taiwan are encouraged also to become a member of AIT's group email notifications by sending an email to
Americans without Internet access may register directly with AIT Taipei or AIT Kaohsiung.
By registering, American citizens make it easier for the American Institute to contact them in case of emergency.

The American Institute in Taiwan is a full passport services agency.
Processing time for routine passports is about two weeks.

The American Institute in Taiwan is located at No.7 Lane 134, Hsin Yi Road Section 3, Taipei, Taiwan, telephone: (886) 2-2162-2000; fax: (886) 2-2162-2239, web site:
The American Institute in Taiwan branch office is located at No. 2 Chung Cheng 3rd Road, 5th Floor, Kaohsiung, Taiwan, telephone: (886) 7-238-7744; fax: (886) 7-238-5237.
AIT's citizen services section can also be contacted by e-mail at
In case of emergencies after working hours, the duty officer at the American Institute in Taiwan at Taipei may be contacted at (886) 2-2162-2000.
* * *
This replaces the Specific Information dated April 15, 2008, to add emergency telephone numbers, to change the email address for subscribing to the Yahoo group for email notifications, and to update the section on Entry/Exit Requirements, Medical Facilities and Health Information, Criminal Penalties and Special Circumstances.

Travel News Headlines WORLD NEWS

Date: Tue 4 Jun 2019
Source: Outbreak News Today [edited]

Health officials report 2 additional confirmed cases of Japanese encephalitis. The cases were in the Eastern District of Chiayi City and the Zuoying District of Kaohsiung City.

The Department of Disease Control said that the 2 new cases were a 50-year-old male from Chiayi City and a 50-year-old female from and Kaohsiung City. Both had no recent history of foreign travel. They developed fever/symptoms on 21 and 23 May 2019, respectively. The 2 cases are currently being treated in the intensive care unit.

Among the cases in Chiayi City, there are several pig houses, paddy fields, and poultry houses within 3 km [1.9 miles] of the residents of the Eastern District and the vegetable gardens of Zhongpu Township in Chiayi County. As for the Kaohsiung City case, there are no pig houses near the home, but there are paddy fields and otters. The health unit has gone to the surrounding homes to carry out environmental surveys, remove un-hygienic sources, and to place mosquito traps in pig houses and poultry houses to reduce the density of vector mosquitoes, and to strengthen publicity of the issue to the local people.

There are 4 confirmed cases in the current year, including 3 cases in Kaohsiung City and one case in Chiayi City.  [Byline: Robert Harriman]
[The above cases indicate that the Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) transmission season is now underway in Taiwan. We expect cases to occur sporadically until the transmission season ends in October 2019. The mosquito species, _Culex tritaeniorhynchus_, and other related Culex species are efficient vectors of JEV and breed in wet areas such as rice paddies. These Culex mosquitoes are abundant enough there to accomplish transmission of the virus from birds and swine to people. Vector control is difficult.

Japanese encephalitis is a vaccine-preventable disease. It is not stated whether the affected individuals above had been vaccinated. The only measures to prevent infection are vaccination and avoidance of mosquito bites. - ProMED Mod.TY]

[HealthMap/ProMED map available at:
Date: Sun 19 May 2019
Source: Taipei Times [edited]

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on Friday [17 May 2019] confirmed this year's [2019] 1st Japanese encephalitis case, urging people to take precautionary measures against mosquito bites as the disease's peak season approaches.

A man in his 60s from Kaohsiung on 1 May [2019] started showing symptoms of fever, headache, convulsions and loss of consciousness, and was immediately hospitalized, the centres said.

He was reported as a suspected case and transferred to another hospital for further treatment on 5 May [2019], with test results on Friday [17 May 2019] confirming that he was infected with Japanese encephalitis [virus], it said. He has since slipped into a coma and is being treated at an intensive care unit, the CDC said.

The man had visited a friend in Kaohsiung's Daliao District and a natural recreational area in Fengshan District during the incubation period, CDC physician Lin Yung-ching said, adding that there is a pig farm and meat market as well as rice paddies near the places he visited, so he might have been infected there.

The Japanese encephalitis season lasts from May to October, with June and July the peak period, Lin said.

Most people show mild to no symptoms at all, but in some cases, the patient might develop a headache, fever or aseptic meningitis, which could progress to loss of consciousness, seizures and ultimately death, he said.

About 30 to 50 percent of those who survive the serious symptoms are left with permanent brain damage, muscle weakness, learning difficulties or personality changes, Lin said, adding that young children, elderly people and people with weak immune systems are at higher risk of developing serious symptoms.

Getting vaccinated is the best prevention method, the CDC said, urging parents who have children above 15 months to get vaccinated at local health departments or contracted hospitals.

People should avoid rice paddies, ponds, trenches, animal farms and other places mosquitoes inhabit, especially at dawn and dusk, when they are most active, and take protective measures against mosquito bites when going outdoors, the CDC said.  [Byline: Lee I-chia]
[The above case heralds the beginning of the Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) transmission season that is now underway in Taiwan. We expect cases to occur sporadically until the transmission season ends in October 2019. The mosquito species, _Culex tritaeniorhynchus_, is an efficient vector of JEV and breeds in wet areas such as rice paddies. These culex mosquitoes are abundant enough there to accomplish transmission of the virus from birds and swine to people. Vector control is difficult.

Japanese encephalitis is a vaccine-preventable disease; the affected individual above had not been vaccinated. The advice to ensure that everyone be vaccinated is prudent. The only measures to prevent infection are vaccination and avoidance of mosquito bites. - ProMED Mod.TY]

[HealthMap/ProMED map available at:
Date: Thu, 18 Apr 2019 07:40:27 +0200

Taipei, April 18, 2019 (AFP) - A 6.0-magnitude earthquake jolted Taiwan on Thursday, the US Geological Survey said, shaking buildings and disrupting traffic.   In the capital Taipei, highrises swayed violently while some panicked school children fled their classrooms in eastern Yilan county, according to reports.      Local media said the quake had been felt all over the island and a highway connecting Yilan and Hualien was shut down due to falling rocks.    The quake struck at 13:01 pm (0501 GMT) at a depth of 19 kilometres (11.8 miles) in eastern Hualien county. There were no immediate reports of casualties.

The island's central weather bureau put its magnitude at 6.1.   The Japan Meteorological Agency warned people living near the coast could notice some effects on sea levels, but said there would be no tsunami.   "Due to this earthquake, Japan's coastal areas may observe slight changes on the oceanic surface, but there is no concern about damage," the agency said.   Hualien was hit by a 6.4 magnitude earthquake last year that killed 17 people.    Taiwan lies near the junction of two tectonic plates and is regularly hit by earthquakes.    The island's worst tremor in recent decades was a 7.6 magnitude quake in September 1999 that killed around 2,400 people.
Date: Mon 11 Mar 2019
Source: Focus Taiwan [abridged, edited]

A Taipei resident in her 20s has been confirmed to be infected with measles and is suspected of having had contact with 247 people during the incubation period, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The woman, who works at a restaurant in the ATT 4 Fun shopping centre in Taipei's Xinyi District might have been infected through coming into contact with foreign tourists in her workplace, said CDC deputy director-general Lo Yi-chun in a statement issued on Mon [11 Mar 2019].

To date, 247 people considered to have had contact with the patient, including her family, colleagues and health care personnel, have been traced. The contact tracing will continue until 27 Mar [2019]. The CDC alerted people who used the same bus and had been to the same places the patient visited to beware of possible exposure to the measles virus. It asked those who might have had contact with the woman to conduct self-health management for 18 days.

The reported new case has brought the total number of confirmed measles cases in Taiwan to 29 since the beginning of this year [2019], 16 contracted at home and 13 from abroad. Among the 16 indigenous cases, 8 have been linked to imported cases, the CDC said.

Lo reminded the public that measles is highly contagious and now is the peak transmission season. Outbreaks in some Asian countries have been growing, including the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, China, India and Indonesia, he said. As of 24 Feb [2019], the number of measles cases in Japan has risen to 258, the highest in the same period since 2009, Lo added.  [byline: Chang Ming-hsuan and Evelyn Kao]
[HealthMap/ProMED-mail map of Taiwan:
Date: Wed 20 Feb 2019
Source: Taipei Times [edited]

A total of 981 people were diagnosed with chicken pox nationwide last week, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said yesterday [Tue 19 Feb 2019].  The figure was higher than the previous 3 weeks and the highest reported during the same week in the past 5 years, the centers said, adding that most of those diagnosed with the disease were children and adolescents between 5 and 14 years old.  "Since the chicken pox vaccine became included in the nation's recommended routine immunizations for infants and children in 2004, the incidence rate has fallen by nearly 9%, but clustered cases still sometimes occur on school campuses," CDC Deputy Director-General Philip Lo said.

A total of 5 clusters were reported in the past 4 weeks, while 11 clusters out of the 12 reported this year [2019] were in schools, 6 of which were elementary schools, he said.  "About 10 to 20% of elementary-school students who were vaccinated against chicken pox at a younger age gradually lose protective immunity over time," Lo said. Although specialists believe that it is not necessary to revaccinate everyone, the centres still encourage parents of children who have lost protective immunity to consider getting their children revaccinated, he added.

As the chicken pox is highly contagious and can transmit through air or fluids, the centres urged people experiencing symptoms -- fever, loss of appetite, headaches, tiredness, malaise, itchy rashes and blisters -- to wear a surgical mask, see a doctor immediately and avoid going to school.

Meanwhile, 161 019 people last week [11-17 Feb 2019] visited hospitals and clinics complaining of diarrhoea, up 9.2% from the prior week [4-10 Feb 2019], the centres said. In the past 4 weeks, 25 clustered cases have been reported from mainly restaurants and hotels, it added.

Late winter and early spring are the common peak season for chicken pox and diarrhoea, it said, urging people to wash their hands and practice good cough etiquette, as well as rest at home until at least 48 hours after their symptoms have subsided.  [Byline: Lee I-chia]
More ...

World Travel News Headlines

Date: Sun, 16 Jun 2019 12:02:50 +0200

Patna, India, June 16, 2019 (AFP) - Severe heat has left dozens dead over a 24-hour period in India's Bihar state, as the country enters a third week of searing temperatures, officials said Sunday.   The deaths occurred in three districts of the poor northern state, where temperatures have hovered around 45 degrees Celsius (113 Fahrenheit) in recent days, senior health official Vijay Kumar told AFP.

Forty-nine people died in three districts of the Magadh region that has been hit by drought, he said.   "It was a sudden development on Saturday afternoon. People affected by heatstroke were rushed to different hospitals," Kumar added.   "Most of them died on Saturday night and some on Sunday morning during treatment."   Kumar said about 40 more people were being treated at a government-run hospital in Aurangabad.   "Patients affected by heat stroke are still being brought, the death toll is likely to increase if the heatwave continues."

Most of the victims were aged above 50 and were rushed to hospitals in semi-conscious state with symptoms of high fever, diarrhoea and vomiting.   Twenty-seven people died in Aurangabad district, 15 in Gaya and seven in Nawada district, officials said.    State Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has announced a compensation of 400,000 rupees ($5,700) for the family of each victim.   Harsh Vardhan, India's health minister, said people should not leave their homes until temperatures fall.    "Intense heat affects brain and leads to various health issues," he said.

Large parts of northern India have endured more than two weeks of sweltering heat. Temperatures have risen above 50 degrees Celsius (122 Fahrenheit) in the desert state of Rajasthan.   A heatwave in 2015 left more than 3,500 dead in India and Pakistan.   In 2017, researchers said South Asia, which is home to one fifth of the world's population, could see heat levels rise to unsurvivable levels by the end of the century if no action is taken on global warming.
Date: Sun, 16 Jun 2019 01:30:52 +0200

Wellington, June 15, 2019 (AFP) - A powerful 7.4 magnitude earthquake stuck near the uninhabited Kermadec islands northeast of New Zealand Sunday, the US Geological Survey said as authorities monitored for signs of a tsunami.   New Zealand's civil defence organisation said it was monitoring the situation and if a tsunami was generated it would take at least two hours to reach the country.   The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said "hazardous tsunami waves from this earthquake are possible within 300 km of the epicentre along the coasts of the Kermadec islands."   The earthquake struck at 10:55am (2255 GMT Saturday) some 928 kilometres (575 miles) north-northeast of the New Zealand city of Tauranga in North Island at a depth of 34 km.
Date: Sun, 16 Jun 2019 00:59:42 +0200

Wellington, June 15, 2019 (AFP) - A magnitude 6.1 earthquake struck Sunday centred 97 kilometres (60 miles) north-east of Ohonua, on the Pacific island of Tonga, the US Geological Survey reported.   The quake hit at 2156 GMT Saturday with an epicentre depth of 10 kilometres, the US global quake monitor said.   The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre issued no alerts, and there were no immediate reports of damage or casualties.   The reported epicentre lies within the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, an area of regular seismic activity.   In February 2018, a 7.5 magnitude earthquake in Papua New Guinea killed 150 people and destroyed hundreds of buildings.
Date: Sun, 16 Jun 2019 00:19:43 +0200

Geneva, June 15, 2019 (AFP) - A woman has drowned in Lake Geneva when her sightseeing boat sank as a violent storm battered parts of Switzerland on Saturday, police said.   A man who was in the same boat was able to swim to another vessel from where he fired "two flares", Joanna Matta, police spokeswoman for the canton (region) of Geneva, told AFP.   The man told officers that the woman had been "passing through Geneva" and that the storm had taken them "by surprise", Matta said.   Three police boats and emergency services rushed to the scene. Police divers later retrieved the woman's body from the lake.

The victim, whose nationality remains unknown, was then taken to a hospital in Geneva where she was declared dead.   In a separate incident, the storm also damaged some of the 465 boats taking part in the 81st edition of the Bol d'Or, an annual regatta on Lake Geneva, the event's press service said.   Heavy rain and strong winds lashed the participants on Saturday afternoon, causing boats to capsize although nobody was injured.

However, the storm broke the mast of the ultra-fast "Real Team" catamaran, which had been in the lead and was forced to pull out of the race.   The bad weather struck western Switzerland on Saturday afternoon, bringing hail and winds reaching up to 110 kilometres (70 miles) per hour, according to the national forecaster MeteoSwiss.   In the neighbouring French region of Haute-Savoie the storm also caused damage and left a 51-year-old German tourist dead after a tree came down at a campsite.
Date: Sat, 15 Jun 2019 16:27:09 +0200

Windhoek, June 15, 2019 (AFP) - Drought-hit Namibia has authorised the sale of at least 1,000 wild animals -- including elephants and giraffes -- to limit loss of life and generate $1.1 million for conservation, the authorities confirmed Saturday.   "Given that this year is a drought year, the [environment] ministry would like to sell various type of game species from various protected areas to protect grazing and at the same time to also generate much needed funding for parks and wildlife management," environment ministry spokesman Romeo Muyunda told AFP.

The authorities declared a national disaster last month, and the meteorological services in the southern African nation estimate that some parts of the country faced the deadliest drought in as many as 90 years.    "The grazing condition in most of our parks is extremely poor and if we do not reduce the number of animals, this will lead to loss of an animals due to starvation," Muyunda said.

In April, an agriculture ministry report said 63,700 animals died in 2018 because of deteriorating grazing conditions brought on by dry weather.   Namibia's cabinet announced this week that the government would sell about 1,000 wild animals.   They include 600 disease-free buffalos, 150 springbok, 65 oryx, 60 giraffes, 35 eland, 28 elephants 20 impala and 16 kudus -- all from national parks.   The aim is to raise $1.1 million that will go towards a state-owned Game Products Trust Fund for wildlife conservation and parks management.

The government said there were currently about 960 buffalos in its national parks, 2,000 springbok, 780 oryx and 6,400 elephants.   The auction was advertised in local newspapers from Friday.   Namibia, a country of 2.4 million people, has previously made calls for aid to assist in the drought emergency that has already affected over 500,000 people.   In April the government announced that it will spend about $39,400 (35,200 euros) on drought relief this year to buy food, provide water tankers and provide subsidies to farmers.
Date: Fri, 14 Jun 2019 18:27:56 +0200

Sao Paulo, June 14, 2019 (AFP) - A nationwide strike called by Brazil's trade unions disrupted public transport and triggered road blocks in parts of the country Friday, ahead of protests against far-right President Jair Bolsonaro's pension reform.   Hours before the opening match of the Copa America in Sao Paulo, some metro lines in the country's biggest city were paralyzed as professors and students also prepared to take to the streets over the government's planned education spending cuts.    It will be the latest mass demonstration against Bolsonaro since he took office in January, but the timing could not be worse for the embattled president as Brazil prepares to play Bolivia in South America's showcase football tournament.

Bolsonaro was expected to attend the opener at Morumbi stadium where police sharpshooters will be deployed as part of increased security for the competition.    One of Brazil's main trade unions estimated 45 million workers had taken part in the strike.   Some 63 cities had been affected by the stoppage, with more than 80 cities recording demonstrations, G1 news site said.   The number of protesters is expected to balloon in the afternoon with demonstrations planned in Brazil's major cities.   Protesters have already blocked some roads in several cities, including Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, where G1 said police had used tear gas to disperse demonstrators and clear the streets.   Brazilians were divided over the partial strike.   "This current government wants to destroy everything that we built decades ago so that's why I'm in favor (of the strike) and I am fighting against social inequality," Vania Santos, 49, told AFP in Rio.    In Sao Paulo, Flavio Moreira opposed the stoppage, however, saying it "hurts the commercial part" of the city.

- Pension savings cut -
Bolsonaro's proposed overhaul of Brazil's pension system -- which he has warned will bankrupt the country if his plan is not approved -- is seen as key to getting a series of economic reforms through Congress.    But the changes, including an increase in the retirement age and workers' contributions, have faced resistance from trade unions and in the lower house of Congress, where Bolsonaro's ultraconservative Social Liberal Party has only around 10 percent of the seats.    A pared-back draft of the reform presented to Congress on Thursday -- which reduces expected savings from 1.2 trillion reais ($300 billion) in 10 years to around 900 billion reais -- did little to appease union leaders, who vowed to go ahead with the shutdown.   Such savings are seen as vital to repairing Brazil's finances and economy, which were devastated by a 2015-2016 crisis.

Economy minister Paulo Guedes, who is spearheading the government's reform agenda, has threatened to resign if the bill is not passed or is watered down significantly.   It caps a tumultuous six months for Bolsonaro, who has seen his popularity nosedive as he struggles to push his signature reform through a hostile Congress and keep Latin America's biggest economy from sliding back into recession.   More than 13 million people are unemployed, the latest data shows, with a record number giving up looking for a job.     Fighting between military and far-right factions of Bolsonaro's government has fueled chaos in his administration where his sons and right-wing writer and polemicist Olavo de Carvalho wield enormous influence.   Bolsonaro sacked his third minister on Thursday -- retired general Carlos Alberto dos Santos Cruz, who had been the government secretary and seen as a moderate voice.   That came on the same day Bolsonaro broke his silence to defend Justice Minister Sergio Moro, who has been accused of wrongdoing while serving as a judge in the sprawling Car Wash anticorruption investigation.
Date: Fri, 14 Jun 2019 06:02:40 +0200
By Clotilde RAVEL

Abidjan, June 14, 2019 (AFP) - "Cover your goods," Diakaria Fofana, a doctor of public health, warns food vendors as a thick cloud of insecticide spray wafts down a street in Abidjan, Ivory Coast's economic capital.   Men in protective clothes, goggles and masks are disgorging plumes of mosquito-killing chemicals in a bid to roll back an outbreak of dengue.   Two people have died and 130 have fallen ill since the fever returned to the West African state last month.

The toll, so far, is tiny compared with other tropical countries, especially in Southeast Asia, where the painful and sometimes deadly disease is an entrenched peril.   But tackling the outbreak is a major challenge for Ivory Coast, a poor country that is having to resort to time-honoured, labour-intensive methods of spraying and neighbourhood awareness campaigns to prevent its spread.   Female mosquitoes carrying the dengue virus transfer the pathogen when they tuck into a blood meal from someone. 

A vaccine does exist, but is not available in Ivory Coast because "it has many secondary effects (and) it's expensive"," explained Joseph Vroh Benie Bi, director of the National Institute for Public Hygiene (INHP).    Developed by French pharmaceutical group Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccine is recommended for use in people aged nine and older, and only for individuals who have already been infected.    Usually accompanied by flu-like symptoms, dengue makes some people very sick indeed, developing into a haemorrhagic fever that can cause difficulty breathing, heavy bleeding or even organ failure. While a first bout of dengue is rarely fatal, subsequent infections are usually worse.

- 'Fighting the mosquito' -
The UN's World Health Organization (WHO) says there are up to 100 million cases of dengue worldwide every year, and almost half the world's population lives in countries where the disease is endemic.   It kills more than 20,000 people each year. Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific are the worst-hit areas.   There is no cure, and the WHO recommends that patients take paracetamol, rest and drinking plenty of fluids.   Five new vaccines are in development, but in the meantime Fofana says: "The only effective means of fighting (dengue) is fighting the mosquito."   In Ivory Coast, most recorded cases have occurred in Abidjan.

Health workers are striving to enlist the public in tackling the mosquito, targeting its life cycle.   "The larvae multiply in stagnant water, for example inside used tyres," said Fofana, deputy director of the vector control unit at the INHP.   "People should never store water in buckets in the open air and they should regularly throw out the water in plates under houseplants."   But he faces an uphill job in a sprawling port city of 4.4 million people in the middle of the rainy season.   What's more, people who are infected, even without knowing it, and can bring the virus to new areas when they are bitten by local mosquitoes.    The WHO has set a goal to halve the number of dengue deaths by 2020, but incidence of the disease has increased 30-fold in the last 50 years.   "Before 1970, only nine countries had experienced severe dengue epidemics. The disease is now endemic in more than 100 countries," it says.

- 'Malaria's big brother' -
In Ivory Coast, where malaria accounts for a third of all medical consultations, many people self-medicate when they experience symptoms such as high fever, vomiting, nausea or aches and pains.   "This is a real problem, because the symptoms of malaria, dengue, typhus and yellow fever are similar. Doing a blood test is absolutely indispensable," said Fofana.   Treatment with the wrong medicines can worsen the situation, he stressed -- aspirin or ibuprofen can increase the risk of bleeding, for example.   In the meantime, the spraying goes on.    "We know the risks," said Bamba Segbe, an Abidjan resident watching the masked men in action. "It's not for nothing that we call dengue malaria's big brother."
Date: Thu, 13 Jun 2019 17:37:51 +0200
By Grace Matsiko

Mpondwe, Uganda, June 13, 2019 (AFP) - At the bustling Mpondwe border post, a woman crossing from the Democratic Republic of Congo into Uganda is whisked away to an isolation unit after a thermal scanner picks up her high temperature.   Health workers keep Mulefu Kyakimwa, a 32-year-old vegetable oil trader, under observation but later discharge her, once Ebola has been ruled out as the cause of her fever.

The border post is on high alert after a family with suspected Ebola escaped isolation on the Congolese side and entered Uganda, where two of them died this week.   The spread of the deadly virus to Uganda comes after months of efforts in a region of porous borders to contain an outbreak in Congo which has killed 1,400 people, according to the latest official data.    "Since the start of the outbreak, the total number of cases is 2,084, of which 1,990 have been confirmed and another 94 are probable," the Congolese health ministry said in its daily bulletin from Wednesday.   "In all, there have been 1,405 deaths -- 1,311 confirmed and 94 probable -- and 579 people have recovered," the bulletin said, adding that 132,679 people had been vaccinated.

- 'We expected it' -
Few people seem to be surprised that Ebola would eventually make its way to Uganda -- which has experienced outbreaks in the past.   "The outbreak is not a surprise. We expected it. People cross the borders all the time and interact a lot," said Dorcus Kambere, a 29-year-old Ugandan bar attendant who feels her job puts her at risk.

At Mpondwe -- where 25,000 people cross daily -- travellers undergo rigorous health checks to detect the lethal virus, which attacks the organs and leads to internal and external bleeding.   Soldiers carrying automatic rifles guide travellers through the screening process, making sure they wash their hands with disinfectant.   The travellers then pass through a shelter with a thermal scanner that feeds people's body temperatures into a computer.   "This is a situation we go through every day since the Ebola outbreak," said Ambrose Nyakitwe, 34, a Ugandan trader returning from the Congo side.   "It is good. I have a family. I have to see that they don't get affected," he added, after passing through the scan.   Outside the busy border post, business carries on as usual, with children swimming and playing in the muddy Lhubiriha river that draws a natural boundary between the two nations.

- 'Not safe' -
A woman serves pancakes with her bare hands from a bucket as pot-bellied money changers lounging next to her carry out their trade.   However, while some carry on seemingly oblivious to the dangers posed by the virus, others are increasingly suspicious.   "It is not safe. If they say people with Ebola crossed into Uganda, how sure are we there are not many who will infect us and are yet to be got?" asked Bernadette Bwiso, 41, a trader.    "Government must do a house-to-house search," she said.   Meanwhile, Nyakitwe is anxious about how the infected patients managed to cross into Uganda despite heightened surveillance.   A Congolese woman -- who is married to a Ugandan -- her mother, three children and their nanny had travelled to DRC to care for her ill father, who later died of Ebola.

The World Health Organization said 12 members of the family who attended the burial in Congo were placed in isolation in the DRC, but six "escaped and crossed over to Uganda" on June 9.   The next day, a five-year-old was checked into hospital in Bwera vomiting blood. Tests confirmed he had Ebola and the family was placed in an isolation ward.   His three-year-old brother was also confirmed to have Ebola, as was their grandmother who died late Wednesday.   Uganda and the RDC are discussing what can be done to intensify collaboration between the two countries to prevent the spread, the Congolese authorities said.

- No surveillance -
Uganda's health ministry said that the surviving travellers and the Ugandan father -- five people in total -- had agreed to be repatriated to DRC on Thursday for treatment and "family support and comfort" from relatives on the other side of the border.   However, three unrelated patients are still in a Ugandan hospital awaiting the result of Ebola tests.

Uganda's Health Minister Jane Ruth Aceng said challenges remained at "unofficial entry points" between Congo and Uganda, which share a porous 875-kilometre (545-mile) border.   These unauthorised border crossings, known as "panyas" in the local Lukonzo language, are often merely planks laid down across a point in the river, or through forests and mountains where there is no surveillance.   In a bid to contain the spread of the disease the Ugandan government has suspended market days and urged people to stop shaking hands and hugging.
Date: Thu, 13 Jun 2019 16:33:58 +0200

Madrid, June 13, 2019 (AFP) - Spain will launch a campaign to urge young people to "always carry a condom on them" as the number of sexually transmitted infections (STI) surges, the government said Thursday.   The news comes a week after the World Health Organization expressed alarm at the lack of progress on curbing STI or diseases (STD), with one expert warning of complacency as dating apps spur sexual activity.   In Spain, videos and ads will be posted from Monday on social networks, music platforms and media that 14- to 29-year-olds most follow, the health ministry said.   "It's normal that you want to do it in your parents' bed. What isn't normal is that you want to complicate your life," reads one ad, going on to show the number of new cases of HIV and other infections.

In a statement, the health ministry urged "everyone -- and particularly the young -- to always have a condom on them and use it."   "The use of condoms has dropped among the 15- to 18-year-olds over the last few years," Health Minister Maria Luisa Carcedo told reporters.   She said there was complacency over STI, including infection by the HIV virus that causes AIDS.   The campaign is a "first shock measure" to challenge the rise of STI among young people, the statement said.   The number of cases of gonorrhoea, for instance, has risen an average of more than 26 percent annually between 2013 and 2017, according to the ministry.

Syphilis "has risen less but in 2017, it reached its highest peak since the start of statistics in Spain: 10.61 infections per 100,000 residents compared to 2.57 in 1995."   The highest rates of chlamydia, meanwhile, are among 20- to 24-year-olds and particularly women, the ministry said.   In 2017, Spain registered close to 24,000 cases of infection by gonorrhoea, syphilis, chlamydia and LGV, a sexually-transmitted disease, according to the statement.
Date: Thu, 13 Jun 2019 15:12:32 +0200

Vilnius, June 13, 2019 (AFP) - Lithuanian temperatures have hit record June highs, meteorologists said Thursday, as a heatwave forced school closures and threatened to reduce harvests in the draught-hit Baltic region.   Kaisiadorys in central Lithuania was the hottest place at 35.7 degrees Celsius (96.2 degrees Fahrenheit) on Wednesday, the highest-ever temperature recorded for June in the country, weather forecaster Paulius Starkus told AFP.   Six people drowned in the Baltic EU state on Wednesday, the deadliest day of the year to date, while some schools put classes on hold or cut lessons short due to the heatwave.

Scientists say the extreme weather is in part a result of climate change.   "Lithuania used to have heatwaves but now they occur more often and are more intense due to climate change," Vilnius University climatologist Donatas Valiukas told AFP.   Starkus said a downpour with thunder and hail could follow in some areas on Thursday afternoon.   Agriculture Minister Giedrius Surplys told lawmakers that some areas were experiencing "a real climatic draught" threatening harvests, while hydrologists warned that river water levels posed a threat to fish.   Demand for air-conditioning has also soared in recent weeks.   Lithuania's hot weather is expected to last through the week, then temperatures may ease below 30 degrees Celsius starting Monday.   Fellow Baltic state Latvia is also experiencing unusual heat for June, with temperatures over 32 degrees Celsius.

In recent days, Latvia's western region of Kurzeme saw thunderstorms with hail damaging buildings, smashing greenhouses and tearing power lines.   Two people have been hospitalised in the northern Latvian town of Cesis after a tree fell on their camper van while they were inside.    Fellow Baltic state Estonia had a heatwave last week and is now experiencing rainy and windy weather.   Poland has also been experiencing high temperatures this month, which has resulted in increased air-conditioner use. The power transmission system operator PSE said that on Wednesday there was record electricity demand for a summer morning at nearly 24.10 gigawatts (GW).   Forty-two people have already drowned in Poland this month, according to the government security centre RCB.