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Taiwan

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.
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Taiwan US Consular Information Sheet
August 18, 2008
Reminder:
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.

DESCRIPTION:
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.

ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS:
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 http://www.taiwanembassy.org/US/lp.asp?ctNode=2315&CtUnit=62&BaseDSD=7&mp=12.
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.

SAFETY AND SECURITY:
For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department’s Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov 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.

CRIME:
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 www.cybercrime.gov.

The emergency telephone number for Taiwan services (ambulance, fire, police) is 119.
Taiwan Police offers a 24-hour telephone line for foreigners in English:
0800-024-111.

INFORMATION FOR VICTIMS OF CRIME:
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.

MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION:
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 http://www.ait.org.tw/en/uscitizens/HealthCareInTW.asp
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 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.

English speakers experiencing a personal crisis in Taiwan can contact the Community Services Center in Taipei (www.community.com.tw) 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.
MEDICAL INSURANCE:
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.

TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS:
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 http://www.motc.gov.tw/en/hypage.cgi?HYPAGE=Eng_Index.htm.

For general information on tourism in Taiwan information may be found at www.tbroc.gov.tw (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.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT:
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 http://www.faa.gov/safety/programs_initiatives/oversight/iasa.

SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Screening Process:
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 http://www.fema.gov/.
Additional information about currently active typhoons can be obtained on the University of Hawaii tropical storm page at http://www.solar.ifa.hawaii.edu/Tropical/tropical.html.
The Central Weather Bureau of Taiwan also maintains a web site that provides information about typhoons and earthquakes.
Its Internet address is http://www.cwb.gov.tw.

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) www.icrt.com.tw 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 http://www.icrt.com.tw/en/D01.php.
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 http://englishnews.ftv.com.tw.
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 http://www.taipeitimes.com, http://www.etaiwannews.com and http://www.chinapost.com.tw.

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: http://www.ait.org.tw/en/uscitizens/judicial.asp.

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.

CRIMINAL PENALTIES:
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.

CHILDREN'S ISSUES:
For information see our Office of Children's Issues web pages on intercountry adoption and international parental child abduction.

REGISTRATION/LOCATION OF THE AMERICAN INSTITUTE:
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 AIT_Citizens-subscribe@yahoogroups.com.
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: http://www.ait.org.tw.
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 aitamcit@mail.ait.org.tw.
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 24 Sep 2019
Source: Outbreak News Today [edited]

The Taiwan Department of Disease Control (CDC) reported today (24 Sep 2019) the 1st imported case of extensively drug-resistant (XDR) typhoid fever in the country. The patient, a 30-year-old male, travelled to a number of countries during the incubation time including Pakistan, which has been battling an outbreak of XDR typhoid for several years. According to the results of genetic sequencing and drug-resistance gene comparison, the place where [the disease] was contracted was in Pakistan.

According to the CDC, the patient began to present with symptoms while still overseas and didn't seek medical care until returning to Taiwan. The patient is now in stable condition but is currently being kept in an isolation ward at the hospital for further observation, the CDC said.

Typhoid fever is a potentially life-threatening illness caused by the bacterium _Salmonella_ Typhi. _Salmonella_ Typhi lives only in humans. Persons with typhoid fever carry the bacteria in their bloodstream and intestinal tract. In addition, a small number of persons, called carriers, recover from typhoid fever but continue to carry the bacteria. Both ill persons and carriers shed _S._ Typhi in their feces.

You can get typhoid fever if you eat food or drink beverages that have been handled by a person who is shedding _S._ Typhi or if sewage contaminated with _S._ Typhi bacteria gets into the water you use for drinking or washing food. Therefore, typhoid fever is more common in areas of the world where handwashing is less frequent and water is likely to be contaminated with sewage.

XDR typhoid is a life-threatening and highly infectious disease, resistant to 5 classes of antimicrobials.
=======================
[It is likely that more and more cases of XDR typhoid will be exported into Europe, Australia, other parts of Asia, and the USA. Prevention of acquisition in travelers depends on appropriate avoidance of potentially contaminated food and water, and immunization. - ProMED Mod.LL]

[HealthMap/ProMED-mail map:
Date: Tue 10 Sept 2019
Source: Focus Taiwan [edited]

Taiwan's enterovirus cases continued to increase last week, bringing the total number to nearly 20 000 between [1 and 7 Sep 2019], the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said Tuesday [10 Sep 2019].

A total of 19 254 patients sought outpatient or emergency treatment at hospitals for enterovirus infection around the country, up 4% from the figure recorded the previous week [25-31 Aug 2019] and the highest over the same period in nearly 5 years, according to CDC data.

CDC physician Lin Yung-ching said there were 2 severe cases recorded last week, one of which involved an 8-month-old girl and the other a 4-year-old boy, both in central Taiwan. The 2 children were reported in stable condition after treatment.

Some of the 2 patients' family members or classmates with whom they had had contact have also been confirmed as enterovirus cases, and the CDC judged that the infection might have been spread through contact, Lin said.

A total of 303 cases of enterovirus-71 (EV-71), the most severe enterovirus strain, have been reported so far this year [2019], the highest in the same period from 2016 to 2018.

Meanwhile, a total of 36 cases with severe complications have been recorded nationwide, including 27 EV-71 cases, according to CDC statistics.

EV-71 is a neurological disease that attacks the nervous system, and infants under the age of 5 are at highest risk of developing severe complications from this type of infection.

In extreme cases, EV-71 can cause polio-like permanent paralysis, according to the CDC. As Taiwan is still in the peak season for enterovirus infection, CDC Deputy Director-General Philip Lo urged the public to take precautions against the spread of the illness, especially among children.

Children infected with enterovirus should be kept away from school so as to prevent the spread of the disease, as enterovirus is highly contagious, Lo advised.  [Byline: Chen Wei-ting and Evelyn Kao]
=====================
[The enteroviruses are spread from person to person by coughs, sneezes, or touching objects or surfaces that have the virus on them. Therefore, practicing good personal hygiene -- washing hands regularly and thoroughly with soap and water -- is the best way to prevent from getting and spreading the infectious disease.

However, most people infected with non-polio enteroviruses do not get sick, or present with mild illness, like the common cold. Infants, children, and teenagers are more likely than adults to get infected and become sick because they do not yet have immunity (protection) from previous exposures to the viruses. Adults can get infected too, but they are less likely to have symptoms, or their symptoms may be milder. Symptoms of mild illness may include fever; runny nose, sneezing, and cough; skin rash; mouth blisters; and body and muscle aches.

Some non-polio enterovirus infections can lead to:
- Viral conjunctivitis;
- Hand-foot-mouth disease;
- Viral meningitis (infection of the covering of the spinal cord and/or brain);
- Viral encephalitis (infection of the brain);
- Myocarditis (infection of the heart);
- Pericarditis (infection of the sac around the heart);
- Acute flaccid paralysis (a sudden onset of weakness in one or more arms or legs);
- Inflammatory muscle disease (slow, progressive muscle weakness).

Infants and people with weakened immune systems have a greater chance of having these complications. People who develop myocarditis may have heart failure and require long-term care. Some people who develop encephalitis or paralysis may not fully recover.

Enterovirus cases were reported from Taipei, Taiwan in 2017 (Human enterovirus - Taiwan: alert http://promedmail.org/post/20170418.4978387), and health alerts like the one mentioned in report above were issued to the general public to observe proper hygiene to reduce disease transmission. Also the case number for EV-71 associated severe disease has also increased, which is a cause for public health concern. - ProMED Mod.UBA]

[HealthMap/ProMED-mail map:
Date: 27 Aug 2019
Source: Taiwan News [edited]

A migrant worker in Taiwan has been diagnosed with [a] hantavirus infection, the 1st case in the country this year [2019].

The afflicted individual, a male in his 20s, is a fisherman living in northern Taiwan. He has not travelled abroad recently, and his life is mostly spent at sea, said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The male started exhibiting symptoms of the disease on 3 Aug [2019], including vomiting, diarrhoea, and fatigue. He later developed liver and renal conditions before receiving a confirmed diagnosis of hantavirus infection.

Hantavirus is contracted through contact with rodent urine and faeces or rodent bites. Signs and symptoms include fever, muscle pain, headache, abdomen pain, and flushing. Some patients may fall ill with symptoms like renal failure, haemorrhaging, and shock.

CDC noted that the individual has been discharged from hospital, and the health authorities have conducted sterilization and rodent control around locations he visited.

Taiwan sees around 0-2 cases of hantavirus infections a year, mostly among the indigenous population. Males account for 83 percent of the total confirmed cases. Residents are advised to sterilize areas contaminated by rodent excrement with diluted bleach.  [Byline: Huang Tzu-ti]
===============
[The circumstances under which the individuals acquired his hantavirus infection are not given, nor does the report above indicate which hantavirus is involved in this and in previous cases.

In Asia, the 5 recognized hantaviruses, with their main rodent reservoir species, are: Hantaan virus (_Apodemus agrarius_), Amur virus (_A. peninsulae_), Thailand virus (_Bandicota indica_), Seoul virus (widely distributed worldwide in the brown rat, _Rattus norvegicus_), and Muju virus (_Myodes regulus_). Hantaan virus and Seoul virus cause cases of haemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS) frequently in China.

The hantavirus most likely involved in the case above in Taiwan is Seoul virus harboured by _Rattus_ spp., as was the case in 2010 (see ProMED-mail archive no. http://promedmail.org/post/20100415.1221). People become infected when exposed to virus in excreta (urine, saliva, and faeces) of infected rats. It is not necessary to have contact with liquid urine; dust particles contaminated with dried urine may be inhaled.

An image of the brown rat, _R. norvegicus_, a reservoir of Seoul, virus can be accessed at

[HealthMap/ProMED map available at:
Date: Sun 18 Aug 2019
Source: Taipei Times [abridged, edited]

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) yesterday [17 Aug 2019] confirmed 5 new measles cases associated with a cluster outbreak in Taipei, saying that 1981 people who had come into direct contact with the patients would be monitored for symptoms until 6 Sep 2019.

The cases are likely associated with a man in his 30s living in northern Taiwan who was infected with measles in Viet Nam, returned home on 29 Jul 2019, transmitted the disease to his flat-mate, and was confirmed to have measles on Wed 31 Jul 2019, the centres said.

One of the 5 cases confirmed yesterday [17 Aug 2019] is a man in his 30s who was on the same flight with the index case on 29 Jul 2019 and was in Viet Nam from 5 Aug to Wed 14 Aug 2019, so he might have been infected by the index case or by other people in Viet Nam, it added.

The other 4 patients are nurses who work at Cathay General Hospital's emergency room who had come into contact with the index case, the CDC said.

The nurses started experiencing symptoms between Friday last week [9 Aug 2019?] and Thursday this week [15 Aug 2019?], CDC Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang said, adding that one of them was vaccinated for measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) in 2013, and 2 were vaccinated last year [2018], but the other has not been vaccinated.

The hospital held an emergency response meeting to discuss prevention measures and asked the medical practitioners who have had direct contact with the index case to have their measles antibody levels measured and receive an MMR vaccine if no antibodies are found, hospital deputy superintendent Lee Chia-long said. The hospital also asked medical practitioners with higher antibody levels to help screen patients with a fever, control the personnel who are allowed to enter the emergency room, take disinfection measures, and put up posters to warn people about clustered measles cases, he said.

One 119 measles cases have been confirmed this year [2019] -- 72 domestic cases, among whom 51 had come into contact with confirmed cases, and 47 imported -- the CDC said.  [Byline: Lee I-chia]
Date: Thu, 8 Aug 2019 06:45:09 +0200 (METDST)

Taipei, Aug 8, 2019 (AFP) - A 5.9-magnitude earthquake that rattled Taiwan on Thursday killed one woman and caused temporary power outages that affected over 10,000 homes, authorities said.   Tremors were felt across the island and high-rises in Taipei swayed as the quake struck off the north-eastern coast at dawn, waking sleeping residents.   A 60-year-old woman was killed outside the capital after a closet fell on her during the quake, the National Fire Agency said.   More than 10,000 houses around the greater Taipei area and neighbouring Yilan lost power, while rail authorities suspended some train services in Yilan affecting thousands of passengers.

Taiwan was already on alert for typhoon Lekima, which is gaining momentum and is expected to buffet the island with powerful winds and heavy rains through to Friday.   "We will continue to monitor if there could be a combined impact from the aftershocks of the earthquake and the approaching typhoon," President Tsai Ing-wen told reporters.    Taiwan lies near the junction of two tectonic plates and is regularly hit by quakes.   In April, a 6.1-magnitude earthquake struck eastern Hualien, disrupting traffic and injuring 17 people.   Taiwan's worst tremor in recent decades was a 7.6-magnitude quake in 1999 that killed around 2,400 people.
More ...

World Travel News Headlines

Date: Tue, 12 Nov 2019 13:10:01 +0100 (MET)
By Holly ROBERTSON, Andrew BEATTY, with Daniel De Cartert in Hillville

Sydney, Nov 12, 2019 (AFP) - Bushfires raging across eastern Australia singed Sydney's suburbs on Tuesday, with firefighters scrambling planes and helicopters to douse a built-up neighbourhood with water and red retardant.   Experts have described the conditions as the worst on record, as spring temperatures climbed toward 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) and winds topped 80 kilometres (50 miles) per hour across a zone which has been plagued by persistent drought.   Although the bushfire season is in its infancy, scientists predict it to be one of Australia's toughest ever, with climate change and unfavourable weather cycles helping created a tinderbox of strong winds, low humidity and high temperatures.

Twin blazes in the north shore suburb of Turramurra -- around 15 kilometres (nine miles) from the centre of Australia's largest city -- tore through a eucalypt forest park and sparked spot fires in homes, before eventually being brought under control.   As night fell, authorities said they were bringing another "clearly suspicious" blaze in a national park in the city's southern suburbs under control.    Throughout the day, more than 300 bushfires burned up and down Australia's east coast, fanned by gale-force winds, scorching temperatures and tinder-dry bushland that has brought some of the most dangerous conditions the country has seen.

In Turramurra, gardens smouldered, thick smoke hung heavy in the air and cars, houses and roads were caked in raspberry-red retardant as if hit by a giant paintball.   "It was the embers that floated up that actually went across and set off spot fires in the front yards" resident Nigel Lush told AFP, adding that one roof had been set alight.   Another resident, Julia Gretton-Roberts, said the blaze spread shockingly quickly.   "Next thing I know the fire was opposite our house and it was massive and the police came and grabbed our kids and took them away," she said.   "My daughter is pretty freaked out."   Firefighter Andrew Connon told AFP "a number of homes were threatened but it was contained by the aerial bombing".

- 'Catastrophic conditions' -
From early morning thousands of firefighters spread out across New South Wales in anticipation of what they called "off the scale" fire risk and "catastrophic" conditions.   They were unable to prevent several bushfires from breaching containment lines and trapping residents who had not already evacuated.   New South Wales Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said so far only a dozen buildings had been damaged Tuesday and a handful non-life-threatening injuries were reported, but the crisis was far from over.

Firefighters will be "working on these fires for days and weeks given the enormity of the firegrounds," he said.    Even before unfavourable weather hit, days of fires had killed three people and destroyed at least 150 homes.   "The conditions are expected to get worse," Fitzsimmons said, warning residents in adjacent areas to stay alert.   "Complacency kills," he added.   Up to 600 schools were closed, as well as many national parks, a total fire ban was introduced for the affected area and Rally Australia -- due to be held in Coffs Harbour at the weekend -- was cancelled.   The military pitched in, helping firefighters with logistics and water-dropping sorties using more than 100 aircraft.

- 'We'll fight it first' -
In the town of Hillville a fire that has ripped through an area the size of 25,000 soccer fields approached the home of Daniel Stevens.   Like many, his family -- including his mother nursing a broken leg -- have packed their bags, but have resisted leaving their house and everything they own.    "We'll fight it first," he told AFP, "but if it jumps the fence line into the paddock, we'll go."

In the nearby town of Taree, dozens of people have already moved to a showground that has become a makeshift evacuation centre.   Fifty-nine-year-old Caroline Watson arrived last night with her husband and their dog.    "The fires are just rife. They are absolutely everywhere" she told AFP. "They didn't ask us to get out, but we figured it was coming."

Further south in the Blue Mountains on the outskirts of Sydney, veteran Winmalee firefighter Alan Gardiner said locals were "terrified and on edge".    The town still bears the scars of a 2013 blaze that destroyed 200 homes, and residents are acutely aware that with few roads in and out of the mountains, a decision to leave late can be fatal.   Efforts to burn fuel in a controlled way have been limited by months of drought-like conditions that made it too dangerous.
Date: Tue, 12 Nov 2019 10:03:07 +0100 (MET)

Denpasar, Indonesia, Nov 12, 2019 (AFP) - An Australian tourist who fly-kicked a motorcyclist and assaulted a man in his own home during a drunken rampage was jailed for four months on Tuesday.   The ruling comes after Nicholas Carr's antics were caught in a viral video that saw him carry out a campaign of destruction in Seminyak, a popular tourist area on the Indonesian holiday island.   "The defendant Nicholas Carr is found guilty and is sentenced to four months" in jail, presiding judge Soebandi, who goes by one name, told the Denpasar District Court.    A lawyer for Carr, charged with assault and property damage, said the 26-year-old would not appeal the ruling.    He is expected to be released next month because of time already served.   In August, Carr ran barefoot on to a street and shouted expletives before the apprentice builder slammed into the bonnet of a moving car and then fly-kicked an unsuspecting motorcycle rider.

The biker, who was thrown from the moving scooter, sustained minor injuries -- later the pair embraced during a court hearing as Carr apologised to the victim.   Carr also shattered a convenience store's glass door before stealing a motorcycle.   Later, he broke into a house where he assaulted the sleeping homeowner, leaving him with injuries, police said earlier.    He was eventually caught by locals and police and taken to hospital.    Pictures that circulated on social media showed at the time showed Carr bloodied and bruised, and trussed with hosepipe and rope.   Shortly after his arrest, Carr apologised and admitted drinking more than 10 small bottles of vodka as well as other alcohol.

After a string of embarrassing incidents by tourists, Bali officials recently warned that boorish visitors may be kicked off the island, which attracts millions annually to its palm-fringed beaches, colourful nightlife and ancient temples.   Australian professional rugby league player David Fifita returned home this week after he was briefly arrested in Bali for assaulting a nightclub security guard.   Several days after Carr's arrest, a Czech couple who were slammed for disrespecting a Balinese temple took part in a ritual purification ceremony.
Date: Mon, 11 Nov 2019 16:19:54 +0100 (MET)

Lyon, Nov 11, 2019 (AFP) - An unusually strong earthquake hit south-eastern France on Monday, injuring four people, one of them seriously, authorities said.   A physicist at a geophysics institute the IPGP said that quakes of this strength are rare in that region, but warned of possible aftershocks and said people should leave fragile buildings.   The quake, with a magnitude of 5.4, was felt in a vast area between the cities of Lyon and Montelimar which are about 150 kilometres (93 miles) apart, the national seismological office said.   "I was leaning against the oven in my mother's bakery when I felt the tremor," said Victoria Brielle, a resident in Privas, some 25 kilometres from the quake's epicentre.   "A customer said her sideboard had moved and all her crockery was broken,"  she said.

Another resident in the area, Didier Levy, who lives in a 15th century castle, told AFP that "chandeliers were still trembling" several minutes after the quake.   Levy, who said his dog starting barking even before humans felt the tremors, added: "I have never experienced anything like it, I could feel the trembling even though these wall are one metre thick."   One person was seriously hurt when some scaffolding collapsed, the regional prefect's office said.   Three other people in the neighbouring Ardeche region were slightly injured.

Quakes in this region are rarely higher than Magnitude 5, said Mustapha Meghraoui of the IPGP's office in Strasbourg.   "We can say that this is a rare one," he added. But he said there might be an aftershock of around 4.5.   "If people are in a fragile house, they would be better leaving it" for something more robust for a while, he said.   The scale of the damage suggested the quake happened at a depth of between five and 10 kilometres, he added. But they were working on a more accurate reading.
Date: Mon, 11 Nov 2019 13:19:54 +0100 (MET)

Goma, DR Congo, Nov 11, 2019 (AFP) - A local radio station that has been involved in the fight against Ebola in eastern DR Congo said Monday it was closing down after one of its broadcasters was murdered.   Joel Musavuli, head of Lwemba radio in Mambasa in Ituri province, told AFP that the station had been targeted by armed groups hostile to the campaign to roll back the Ebola epidemic.

"Each of us have received threats since last month. We have now decided to stop broadcasting, Musavuli said, adding that he himself had escaped two kidnap attempts.   "We are victims of our commitment to the awareness campaign about the spread of Ebola virus disease. We don't know why the militiamen are targeting us."   Nearly 2,200 people have died since the notorious haemorrhagic disease erupted in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo in August 2018, according to the latest official figures.

The fight against the outbreak has been hampered by local fears and superstititions, exploited by militia groups that are rampant in the remote region.   Several health workers have been killed and media that have supported the campaign have received threats.

Several radio stations in the Mambasa area say they have stopped broadcasting anti-Ebola messages because of intimidation.   On November 2, Lwemba broadcaster Papy Mahamba was killed at his home by unidentified men. His wife was injured and their house set ablaze.    The station said the authorities had failed to take action against the threats. It said it would resume broadcasts after "the state has restored authority in the area".
Date: Mon, 11 Nov 2019 11:38:15 +0100 (MET)

Kuwait City, Nov 11, 2019 (AFP) - Hundreds of workers at Kuwait's international airport held a one-hour strike Monday to demand better working conditions, threatening to stage longer walkouts in the coming days.    Ahmed Mohammed al-Kandari, a union representative, said workers were calling for improved treatment and to be compensated for daily exposure to pollution and noise.  Monday's strike by Kuwaiti staff did not affect flights, officials said.   The right to strike is guaranteed for citizens in Kuwait, but such actions remain rare in the Gulf country.

Foreign workers do not have the right to strike.  "Airport traffic is very normal," Sheikh Salman Al-Hamoud Al-Sabah, head of the General Directorate of Civil Aviation, told AFP.    Another official, Saleh Al-Fadaghi, the airport's director of operations, also said flights were not affected. "During the one-hour strike, 19 flights were operated as scheduled. There were five departures and 14 arrivals," he told AFP.

Kandari said the purpose of the strike was not to disrupt operations but "to make our voices heard". He added that Kuwaiti workers would hold a further two-hour strike on Wednesday and a 24-hour strike on Sunday if their demands are not met.    Of 4,500 civil aviation employees, 1,500 took part in Monday's strike, he said.
Date: Mon, 11 Nov 2019 10:39:09 +0100 (MET)

La Jonquera, Spain, Nov 11, 2019 (AFP) - Catalan separatist activists blocked traffic on Monday on a motorway linking Spain and France, in a fresh protest against the sentencing last month of nine of their leaders to lengthy jail terms.   Demonstrators cut the AP7 motorway at La Jonquera near the city of Girona in eastern Spain, a day after a repeat general election in which Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez's Socialist emerged as winners but weakened, while far-right party Vox surged to third place on the back of its hardline stance against separatism.   Dozens of vehicles blocked the motorway near the border with France while some 300 people set up a barricade, according to an AFP photographer at the scene.   Some demonstrators began to set up a stage and speakers which they brought to the scene in vans.   Catalonia's regional road department confirmed the motorway was cut in both directions at La Jonquera.

The protest was called by a new, mysterious organisation called "Democratic Tsunami" which last month sent thousands of people to block access to Barcelona airport in a protest which ended in clashes between demonstrators and police.   "This mobilisation is a cry to the international community so that it makes the Spanish state understand that the only possible path is to sit down and talk," the group said in a message sent to its followers on encrypted messaging service Telegram.   Radical separatist group CDR also called on its supporters to head to La Jonquera to block the highway.   Catalonia was rocked by days of mass, sometimes violent, pro-independence rallies after Spain's Supreme Court on October 14 sentenced nine politicians and activists to jail for up to 13 years for their role in a failed secession bid in 2017.   Demonstrators have frequently cut road and rail links between Spain and France while many shops in downtown Barcelona have been shut during the rallies and there are growing concerns about the impact of the unrest on business in Spain's second largest city.
Date: Sat, 9 Nov 2019 18:59:25 +0100 (MET)

MOUSOUNI ISLAND, India, Nov 9, 2019 (AFP) - Cyclone Bulbul hit India and southern Bangladesh on Saturday, leaving two dead as authorities in the countries ordered more than two million people to get out of the path of the storm.   The cyclone, packing winds of up to 120 kilometres (75 miles) per hour, has "weakened" and "started crossing" India's West Bengal and Bangladesh's Khulna coast at about 9:00 pm (1500 GMT), Dhaka's Meteorological Department said in a special bulletin.   "It is likely to move in a northeasterly direction" and "weaken gradually, and may complete crossing West Bengal-Khulna coast by midnight tonight," the department said.     Airports and ports were shut down and the deaths were reported before the full force of the cyclone had hit.   One person was killed by an uprooted tree in Kolkata and another by a wall that collapsed under the force of the winds in Odisha state, authorities said.

More than 60,000 people were moved away from the coast on the Indian side of the border.   Bangladesh disaster management secretary Shah Kamal told AFP that "2.028 million" have been evacuated and moved to more than 5,500 cyclone shelters.   He said there was no reports of casualties and rejected reports in local media that dozens of local fishermen were missing on the southern coast.    Bangladeshi troops were sent to some villages, while about 55,000 volunteers went door-to-door and making loudspeaker announcements in the streets to get people away from the danger zone in villages, many of which were below sea level.

- Ports closed, flights halted -
A storm surge up to two metres (seven feet) was predicted along the coast, Bangladesh's Meteorological Department said.   About 1,500 tourists were stranded on the southern island of Saint Martin after boat services were suspended due to bad weather.   Bangladesh's two biggest ports, Mongla and Chittagong, were closed because of the storm, and flights into Chittagong airport were halted.   In India, flights in and out of Kolkata airport were suspended for 12 hours because of the storm.   On the West Bengal island of Mousouni, which lies in the path of the storm, frightened residents took shelter in schools and government buildings because they had not been able to escape.   Military planes and ships have been put on standby to help in emergencies, Indian authorities said.

Bulbul hit the coast at the Sundarbans, the world's largest mangrove forest, which straddles Bangladesh and part of eastern India, and is home to endangered species including the Bengal tiger and the Irrawaddy dolphins.   Bangladesh's low-lying coast, home to 30 million people, is regularly battered by cyclones that leave a trail of destruction.   Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed in cyclones in recent decades.   While the frequency and intensity have increased, partly due to climate change, the death tolls have come down because of faster evacuations and the building of 4,000 cyclone shelters along the coast.   In November 2007, Cyclone Sidr killed more than 3,000 people. In May this year, Fani became the most powerful storm to hit the country in five years, but the death toll was about 12.
Date: Sat, 9 Nov 2019 14:18:27 +0100 (MET)

Beirut, Nov 9, 2019 (AFP) - Several petrol stations in protest-hit Lebanon stopped services Saturday, as reserves ran dry due to a shortage of US dollars to pay suppliers, a syndicate head said.   The shuttering of petrol stations came as demonstrators again took to the street across the country, keeping up their three-week-long movement against a political class regarded as inefficient and corrupt.    "The petrol stations that opened today are the ones that still have reserves. They will close down as soon as supply runs out," said Sami Brax, the head of the Syndicate of Gas Station Owners.   He said if officials do not facilitate access to dollars by Tuesday, "we will be forced to stop imports and close down all petrol stations."

Petrol stations receive payment from customers in Lebanese pounds but have to pay importers and suppliers in dollars.    For two decades, the Lebanese pound has been pegged to the US dollar, with both currencies used interchangeably in daily life.   But banks have been reducing access to dollars since the end of the summer, following fears of a shortage in central bank dollar reserves.   In recent days, banks halted all ATM withdrawals in dollars and severely restricted conversions from Lebanese pounds.   Many Lebanese have had to instead buy dollars from money changers at a higher exchange rate, in what amounts to a de-facto devaluation of the local currency that has sparked price hikes.

The official exchange rate has remained fixed at 1,507 Lebanese pounds to the dollar, but the rate in the parallel market has surpassed 1,800.   "The banks are under pressure from people, both inside Lebanon and abroad," said economist Naseeb Ghabreel, after many rushed to withdraw their dollar savings or convert Lebanese pound accounts.   Since September, petrol station owners have accused banks of failing to provide them with the dollars they need and threatened strikes.    In response, the central bank last month pledged to facilitate access to the greenback for importers of petroleum products, wheat and medicine.   But the measure has not yet gone into effect.

Lebanon has since October 17 witnessed an unprecedented popular uprising against everything from power cuts and poor social security to alleged state corruption.   The government yielded to popular pressure and stepped down last month, with the World Bank urging for the quick formation of a new cabinet to prevent the economy from further deteriorating.
Date: Fri, 8 Nov 2019 19:25:02 +0100 (MET)

Madrid, Nov 8, 2019 (AFP) - Spanish health authorities confirmed Friday a case of a man spreading dengue through sex, a world first for a virus which until recently was thought to be transmitted only by mosquitos.   The case concerns a 41-year-old man from Madrid who contracted dengue after having sex with his male partner who picked up the virus from a mosquito bite during a trip to Cuba, said Susana Jimenez of the Madrid region's public health department.

His dengue infection was confirmed in September and it puzzled doctors because he had not travelled to a country where the disease, which causes severe flu-like symptoms such as high fever and body aches, is common, she added.   "His partner presented the same symptoms as him but lighter around ten days earlier, and he had previously visited Cuba and the Dominican Republic," Jimenez said.   "An analysis of their sperm was carried out and it revealed that not only did they have dengue but that it was exactly the same virus which circulates in Cuba."

A "likely' case of sexual transmission of dengue between a man and a woman was the subject of a recent scientific article in South Corea, Jimenez said.   In an e-mail sent to AFP, the Stockholm-based European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), which monitors health and disease in Europe, said this was "to our knowledge, the first sexual transmission of the dengue virus among men who have sex with men."

According to the World Health Organization's website, dengue is transmitted mainly by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito, which thrives in densely-populated tropical climates and breeds in stagnant pools of water.    It is most serious -- and deadly -- in children, especially young girls though scientists don't know why.

Dengue is most commonly caught by people travelling to hotter climates such as southeast Asia, Africa, Australia, the Caribbean and South and Central America.
Date: Sun 10 Nov 2019
Source: The News [abridged, edited]

Another young man is awaiting death in an isolation ward of the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) after developing full-blown rabies, as he was bitten by a rabid dog some 3 months ago but was not administered the rabies vaccine, officials said on Saturday [9 Nov 2019].

"18-year-old Z.K., a resident of Jeva Khan Goth in the Nooriabad area of District Jamshoro, has been brought to the casualty ward of the JPMC with full-blown rabies," Dr Seemin Jamali, the hospital's executive director, told The News.

"According to his family members, the teenager was bitten by a stray dog on the leg around 3 months ago. Unfortunately, neither did the family know about vaccination nor did anybody tell them to get the teenager vaccinated, which resulted in the development of the lethal disease."

Sindh Health Department officials said that this is the 22nd case of rabies in the province this year [2019].

M.K., the ill-fated youngster's father, said that after his son was bitten on the leg, he was taken to a local doctor, who had dressed the wound and given him some medicines but had not asked for the teenager to be vaccinated or referred him to a tertiary-care hospital.

Officials said that right now, dog-bite incidents are on the rise in Karachi as well as in other districts of Sindh, with so far more than 200 000 people falling victim to canine attacks.

They added that the population of rabid dogs is also on the rise, and the animals are not only transmitting the disease to their own species but also attacking humans throughout the province.

Dr Seemin said: "These days any person who is bitten by a dog should be given immunoglobulin as well as the full course of the rabies vaccine to prevent the victim from a painful death. Once rabies is developed in a person, there is no cure for their condition."

She deplored the fact that on the one hand incidents of dog-bite are on the rise and on the other, hospitals in the entire province are facing a shortage of the rabies vaccine, due to which the cases are being referred to the JPMC in Karachi.

"Even the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital, which is considered to be a tertiary-care hospital, is referring dog-bite victims to the JPMC after administering one dose of the vaccine," she said.

"As we don't know the status of their vaccination, we have to vaccinate these patients from zero, but this practice is extremely unprofessional, and it can result in the loss of a precious life."

On the other hand, the shortage of rabies vaccine is becoming a serious issue in Pakistan, especially in Sindh, which requires hundreds of thousands of doses to prevent the people from developing rabies encephalitis.

Pakistan used to get most of its rabies vaccine supplies from Indian biotechnology giants and pharmaceutical companies, but after the deterioration of relations between the 2 countries, Pakistan's next-door neighbour reduced those supplies, while production at the NIH is insufficient to meet the local requirements.

In this scenario, experts say there is an urgent need to control the population of stray dogs in the country by hook or by crook. They believe that at a time when there is not enough rabies vaccine available, the authorities should take measures to save people from canine attacks by reducing the dog population by any means.  [Byline: M. Waqar Bhatti]
=====================
[We have received recently several reports from Pakistan, describing human rabies cases; e.g.
(published 7 Nov 2019),
(published 3 Nov 2019),
(published 15 Oct 2019].

Hopefully, this post will help the professionals involved in getting due attention and required means from the health and municipal authorities for immediate measures undertaken, including timely supply of the required medical preparations.

According to Pakistan's Health Minister, Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho, (on Fri 8 Nov 2019), dog-bite cases were "mishandled" by citizens, as the victims were often brought to hospitals quite late, and the delay caused their deaths (see <https://www.dawn.com/news/1515803>).

WHO's most recent available position paper addressing rabies vaccines and immunoglobulins is available at

[HealthMap/ProMED map available at: