Potential Implications for Travel Because of Ebola in Parts of West Africa
LAST UPDATED: DECEMBER 2, 2014
The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens to screening procedures, travel restrictions, and reduced aviation transportation options in response to the outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Mali. This Travel Alert will expire on June 2, 2015.
Due to an outbreak of EVD in the West African nations of Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Mali, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued Level 3 Travel Warnings for Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone advising against non-essential travel and a Level 2 Travel Alert for Mali, to practice enhanced precautions for avoidance of contact with ill individuals. The Bureau of Consular Affairs’ website prominently features an Ebola Fact Sheet and links to the CDC Health Travel Warnings, Travel Alert, and general guidance about Ebola.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and CDC have also published and provided interim guidance to public health authorities, airlines, and other partners in West Africa for evaluating risk of exposure of persons coming from countries affected by EVD. Travelers should consult the U.S. Department of Homeland Security website for the most up-to-date information regarding enhanced screening procedures at five U.S. airports (Newark, New York JFK, O’Hare, Atlanta, and Dulles) for all people entering the United States from or who have traveled through the Ebola-affected countries. Travelers who exhibit symptoms indicative of possible Ebola infection may be prevented from boarding and restricted from traveling for the 21-day period. Moreover, CDC’s guidelines outline the minimum recommended procedures, and state and local governments have the power to implement more stringent procedures. Please note neither the Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs nor the U.S. Embassy have authority over quarantine issues and cannot prevent a U.S. citizen from being quarantined should local health authorities overseas, or in the United States, require it. For questions about quarantine, please visit the CDC website that addresses quarantine and isolation issues.
Medical evacuation from Ebola-affected countries is very difficult, even for non-Ebola illnesses. The cost for a medical evacuation flight can exceed $200,000. We encourage U.S. citizens travelling to Ebola-affected countries to purchase travel insurance and ensure this insurance includes medical evacuation for EVD. Policy holders should confirm the availability of medical care and evacuation services at their travel destinations prior to travel.
Some local, regional, and international air carriers have curtailed or temporarily suspended service to or from Ebola-affected countries. U.S. citizens planning travel to or from these countries, in accordance with the CDC Health Travel Warnings and Health Travel Alert, should contact their airline to verify seat availability, confirm departure schedules, inquire about screening procedures, and be aware of other airline options.
The Department is aware that some countries have put in place procedures relating to the travel of individuals from or who have traveled through the affected countries, including complete travel bans. Changes to existing procedures may occur with little or no notice. Please consult your airline or the embassy of your destination country for additional information.
We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens traveling or residing abroad enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). STEP enrollment allows you to receive the Department’s safety and security updates, and makes it easier for the nearest U.S. embassy or U.S. consulate to contact you in an emergency. If you do not have Internet access, enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
Regularly monitor the State Department’s website where you can find current Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and the Worldwide Caution, and read the Country Specific Information for your destination countries. For additional information, refer to the “Traveler’s Checklist” on the State Department’s website. Current information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free from within the United States and Canada, or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Follow us on Twitter and on Facebook.
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Nov 15, 2014 Threat Journal is a weekly supplement to the AlertsUSA National Threat and Incident Notification Service
WEEKLY THREAT ROUNDUP
Now Published Each Saturday Afternoon
Ebola Aid Flight from Senegal to Liberia – ALLOW IMAGES
White House: Expect More Ebola Cases in the U.S.
National Guard Mobilized to Serve In West Africa
Ebola and Islam – A Deadly Combination
Nov 15, 2014
Between Nov 11-15, 2014, AlertsUSA issued the following
related Flash messages to subscriber mobile devices:
11/15 – Overnight: Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered the mobilization of 2,100 Army Reserve and National Guard soldiers for Ebola duty in West Africa.
11/11 – US Embassy New Zealand receives pkg w/ vial containing susp substance. Pkgs also sent to NZ Parliament + local paper claiming to contain Ebola-tainted blood.
What You Need To Know
On Tues of this week AlertsUSA subscribers were notified via text messages to their mobile devices that the US Embassy is Wellington, New Zealand, along with the NZ Parliament and a local newspaper, had each received packages with vials containing small bottles of an unknown liquid, along with correspondence referring to the Ebola virus. As of the time of this reports’ preparation on Friday, there have been no follow up reports indicating the results of testing on the liquids. While the U.S. embassy remained open during the incident, one worker was given a precautionary decontamination scrub down and the mailroom of the facility closed.
CANADA IMPLEMENTS TIGHTER CONTROLS
Readers will recall that earlier this month, the governments of Australia and Canada effectively closed their doors to residents of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, dramatically curtailing all visa services in a major effort to prevent travelers infected with the deadly Ebola virus from reaching their shores. The move caused bureaucrats within the UN and World Health Organization to spin off the rails, demanding both governments justify their actions.
On Monday of this week the government of Canada again put the safety of their citizens first and announced additional measures. Effective immediately, those traveling from the affected West African countries who have had any contact with Ebola patients, including health care workers, will be ordered into immediate and mandatory self-isolation at home or in a designated facility for 3 weeks and all will be monitored daily for symptoms.
Those travelers from the region without known contacts, while not ordered into self-isolation, will still be closely monitored on a daily basis by public health officials for the same time period.
EBOLA CZAR: MORE U.S. EBOLA CASES TO COME
On Tues, President Obama’s Ebola Czar, Ron Klain, told MSNBC that the U.S. would see additional cases of Ebola in our country, while at the same time mocking state officials like New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie who imposed strict quarantine procedures on returning healthcare workers that exceeded the CDC recommendations.
U.S. MILITARY EBOLA MISSION TO LAST APPROX. 18 MONTHS
At present, there are just over 2000 U.S. soldiers in West Africa serving in Operation United Assistance. Most of these troops are currently located in Liberia, with a small contingent in Senegal. Late last week, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey announced that the U.S. military mission in West Africa will likely last 18 months and that soldiers would be deployed, on average, in six-month rotations. This means that when all is said and done, there is a high likelihood that far more than original 4000 soldiers selected for deployment will serve time in the region.
OBAMA SHIELDS EBOLA CONTRACTORS FROM LAWSUITS
On Thurs of this week, President Obama quietly issued a memorandum protecting federal contractors hired for work related the outbreak in West Africa against lawsuits for importing Ebola into the United States. In short, if a contractor working in West Africa carries the virus back to the U.S. and infects others, that contractor and their employer are shielded from lawsuits.
SECDEF MOBILIZES NAT’L GUARD AND RESERVE
Late Friday, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel signed an order authorizing the involuntary mobilization of approximately 2,100 Army Reserve and Army National Guard soldiers to support Operation United Assistance.
Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby says that Army officials are now in the process of notifying individual soldiers and their families. Once all of the appropriate notifications have been completed, additional information will be provided about units and specialties being mobilized.
All soldiers will conduct regionally-specific training on Ebola prevention, malaria prevention, other medical threats, and medical readiness requirements before deploying.
(CDC / WHO estimate actual numbers approx 4X higher)
WEEK CASES DEATHS
FRI NOV 14, 2014 14,413 5177
WED NOV 12, 2014 14,098 5160
FRI NOV 07, 2014 13,268 4960
MED STAFF (HCW) 570 324
SOURCE: World Health Organization
EBOLA AND ISLAM – A DEADLY COMBINATION
As if Ebola itself is not creepy enough, a quiet little secret rarely shared with the American public is that many of those becoming infected with Ebola are Muslim. Further, the rapid spread of Ebola in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, as well as the continuing difficulty in controlling the outbreak, is in large part directly attributed to strict practices under Sharia law.
For some context, consider that according to the CIA World Fact Book, 85% of the population in Guinea is Muslim. In Sierra Leone, 60%. In Liberia, ~13%.
When reading the following material, keep in mind that when an individual dies from Ebola the body is at its most infectious state. Viral loads have undergone extreme amplification and everything from the skin to bodily fluids are lethally “hot.”
Funerals in Islam (known as Janazah) follow very specific rituals which are obligatory (Wajib). One aspect of this process is known as Ghusl, or the washing of the corpse (For details, see this, this and this.).
When an individual dies, Sharia Law mandates that same sex members of the family collectively wash the corpse 3 or more times, though ultimately an odd number of instances. Ghusl may also be performed by a spouse.
Prior to each round of scrubbing, part of the detailed Ghusl process calls for those involved to press on the stomach of the corpse to cause the release of as much internal fluid and impurities as possible. The process also calls for the brushing of teeth and cleaning of the nose.
A mixture of water and camphor is used for the final washing, after which the corpse is dried and wrapped in white linens. In the case of women, the hair is brushed and braided into three strands.
Those present at the time of an individual’s death, as well as those who come pay final respects prior to burial, are allowed to uncover the face of the corpse and kiss it.
Prior to burial, it is also common for those in attendance to wash their face, hands and feet using a common bowl.
Burial is mandatory, cremation is forbidden.
This entire process is carried out either in a family home or within a mosque, many of which (including in America) have rooms specifically set aside for this purpose.
It is through these practices that many thousands of individuals have become infected. The dangers with traditional Islamic funerals in relation to the Ebola outbreak are so great that the World Health Organization has even addressed the issue by attempting to roll out a public awareness campaign and new protocols for safe, but dignified burials.
KEEP THE TOPIC ON YOUR RADAR
Here again, we urge readers to not grow complacent because mainstream coverage has dropped off. We are now at the start of flu season and the government is going to great lengths to make Ebola a non-story while scrambling behind the scene to prepare a stronger domestic response. This should speak volumes to anyone paying attention.
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For 15 of the past 16 weeks, AlertsUSA and Threat Journal have been warning of the progression of the West Africa Ebola outbreak, the danger posed to the continental U.S., and documenting the overall developments and response (See 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15 ). A wealth of information is available within those past issues.
As always, AlertsUSA continues to closely monitor developments with the spread of this virus and will immediately notify service subscribers of major changes in its spread to different regions, important notices and warnings by government agencies or any other major changes in the overall threat environment as events warrant
OTHER ALERTS ISSUED THIS WEEK BUT
NOT DETAILED IN THIS NEWSLETTER
11/11 – Missouri Gov Nixon announces major law enforcement rollout in advance of Ferguson Grand Jury decision. Nat’l Guard on standby, 1000+ officers to deploy.
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F22 Escorts Russian Bomber – ALLOW IMAGES
Tensions Skyrocket With Russia
US Warns Over Flights Near American Shores
Nov 15, 2014
What You Need To Know
Tensions between the U.S., NATO and Russia are at their highest point since the end of the Cold War and appear to only be getting worse. Countering increased U.S. and NATO activity along Russia’s borders over the last 12 months, the Russian government has been increasing the number of surveillance and training flights at the edges of the airspace of the U.S. as well as that of other NATO nations.
On Wed the heat was turned up even when Russia’s Defense Minister, Sergei Shoigu, announced that Russia will send long-range strategic bombers on regular patrol missions around the globe, including from the Arctic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico.
“In the current situation we have to maintain military presence in the western Atlantic and eastern Pacific, as well as the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico.”
His comments come at the same time as NATO confirmed the movement of multiple Russian armored columns into Ukraine.
Quoting NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander, U.S. General Phillip Breedlove:
“We have seen columns of Russian equipment, primarily Russian tanks, Russian artillery, Russian air-defense systems and Russian combat troops entering into Ukraine. We do not have a good picture at this time of how many. We agree that there are multiple columns that we have seen.”
On Thursday, the State Department issued a statement saying the United States did not consider Russia’s security environment as warranting such activity.
According to the Pentagon, Russia has not previously flown actual bomber patrols over the Gulf of Mexico, though as previously reported by AlertsUSA in the summer of 2012, Russian attack submarines have been tracked in the Gulf.
Further, as we reported back in July, Russia inked a new agreement with Cuba to reopen a powerful electronic surveillance station near the city of Lourdes located approximately 20 miles South of Havana. Before it was mothballed in 2001 due to a closer relationship with the U.S., the station was Russia’s largest signals intelligence facility abroad, measuring 28 square miles in size and hosting upwards of 3000 intelligence, military and engineering personnel.
Travel Security Update
The U.S. Dept. of State is the authoritative federal source for information on the security situation at travel destinations worldwide. With tensions rapidly increasing in most regions, readers planning on international travel, even to such common destinations as Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean Islands, are strongly encouraged to do a little research on the security situation prior to departure.
Latest USGOV Travel Alerts and Warnings
Burkina Faso 10/31/2014
Worldwide Caution 10/10/2014
for Travel Because
of Ebola 10/24/2014
See all USGOV Travel Alerts and Warnings HERE.