Liberia drops from Ebola watch list; Guinea and Sierra Leone still on
The World Health Organization has declared Liberia Ebola-free, allowing travelers coming from that West African nation to enter the U.S. without additional screening.
Those returning from Guinea and Sierra Leone still will be screened.
A State Department alert issued Sept. 15 noted that Ebola remains a Level 3 travel issue for Guinea and Sierra Leone, according to the Centers for Disease Control, which counted 17,608 cases in those countries resulting in 6,487 deaths. Travelers are advised to avoid nonessential travel to those countries.
Liberia has had 10,672 cases of Ebola and 4,808 deaths, the CDC reported, but is now considered a Level 1 travel issue.
The CDC’s website notes that Liberia is “no longer recommending that U.S. residents practice enhanced precautions when traveling to Liberia.” Travelers should avoid contact with “sick people, dead bodies or blood and bodily fluids.”
State Department warns of Turkey, due to military operations
Because of military operations out of Incirlik Air Base in southern Turkey, the State Department issued a warning for Turkey, noting that the U.S. has authorized voluntary departure of U.S. government family members from Adana. Adana is nearly 600 miles from Istanbul. Government workers are required to get approval for travel to certain provinces.
Other U.S. citizens should be “alert to the potential for violence,” the State Department said in its Sept. 3 warning.
State Department warns of retaliation against Saudi Arabia
On Monday, the State Department issued an updated warning for U.S. travelers going to Saudi Arabia. The concerns are twofold: threats or violence against U.S. citizens and attacks on mosques, and issues with Yemen.
Saudi coalition forces struck Sanaa, the capital of Yemen, last week. Houthi insurgents control the capital. The bombing raid struck a security compound and a house in the capital in which more than a dozen members of one family were killed, raising concerns of international rights groups and the possibility of retaliation against Saudi Arabia.
Venezuela crime draws State Department warning
The threat of violent crime earned Venezuela an updated travel warning from the State Department.
Although the warning, which replaces one issued Dec. 11, said Americans aren’t targeted, the frequency of the crime means travelers could get caught by happenstance. The violence, the Sept. 18 warning said, has involved heavy weapons turned on people at universities, banks, shopping malls and more.
The warning cited Venezuela’s homicide rate, which is ranked the second highest in the world (Honduras is first), and noted that kidnappings, most of which are not reported, are a problem.
Some of these crimes occur in Caracas, but others are in the interior. Travelers are advised, as they are in any unfamiliar area, to avoid displaying cash or jewelry and to avoid walking alone.
Sources: U.S. Department of State; Centers for Disease Control; the Associated Press; Reuters