Travelers in New York City should expect heightened security ahead of and during New Year celebrations. Security will particularly be tight around Times Square for the annual New Year’s Eve event. Authorities will begin to close roads around Times Square as early as 4:00 AM local time today. Travelers should follow all official directives and allow additional time for journeys.
AFRICA & THE MIDDLE EAST
Travelers should avoid all gatherings linked to the second round of the Presidential Election. Provisional results are scheduled to be released tomorrow, January 1. Voting in a recent run-off Presidential Election between the ruling PAIGC party’s Domingos Simoes Pereira and his opponent, Umaro Sissoco Embalo from the MADEM-G15 party, passed off peacefully. Travelers are advised to continue monitoring election-related developments and exercise caution.
A surge in cases of influenza have been reported. Flu is a viral illness, causing a sudden fever, cough, headache, weakness and muscular pains. Most cases are mild, although some can be severe or even fatal. Pregnant women, adults over 65, and young children are at higher risk of severe illness. Travelers are advised to prevent influenza through vaccination and attention to hygiene.
Travel to Baghdad should be deferred through January 5 due to continued violent anti-government demonstrations amid protracted political deadlock. Businesscritical travel to most southern provinces may be possible, though all travel to Dhi Qar province should also be deferred due to higher rates of violence and movement restrictions.
Over the coming days, travelers in urban centers should anticipate and plan journeys avoiding further demonstrations by supporters and opponents of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. A three-judge Supreme Court panel is reviewing whether Netanyahu can form a government following his indictment on charges of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust. Most recently, hundreds of people rallied at Habima Square in Tel Aviv yesterday to demand the Prime Minister’s immunity from prosecution. Further pro- and anti-Netanyahu gatherings are likely in the near term and could disrupt travel.
Two suspected militant attacks involving roadside explosions in Wajir and Mandera counties occurred on December 27 and 29 respectively. While no group has claimed responsibility for the attacks, authorities believe that members of the Somaliabased Islamist extremist group al-Shabab are the likely perpetrators. The incidents underscore the high risks associated with travel to Somali-border counties, as well as the need to avoid non-essential travel to such locations.
Today, travelers should avoid large gatherings at Martyrs’ Square in Beirut due to the risk of unrest. A heightened security presence is expected around the gatherings on New Year’s Eve. Demonstrations over socio-economic grievances and related gatherings linked to the appointment of Hassan Diab as the country’s new Prime Minister will continue to spread across all urban centers, including Beirut. Travelers should avoid protests and follow all official directives.
An outbreak of yellow fever has been reported. Yellow fever is a potentially severe viral illness spread via mosquito bites. It can be prevented through vaccination and by avoiding mosquito bites. A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for entry for anyone over 1 year of age. Vaccination is recommended for all travelers over 9 months of age going to areas south of the Sahara Desert.
Two people on December 26 were injured when unidentified gunmen fired at a truck traveling on the EN1 Motorway in the central Chibuto 2 area. Meanwhile, the government has denied earlier reports that ten people were killed in a December 24 attack on three vehicles on the EN1 in Chibabava district. The incidents highlight the need for robust journey management plans for road travel within Manica and Sofala provinces, where attacks on vehicles along the EN1 and EN6 highways periodically occur.
Travelers should exercise additional caution and expect disruption in Cabo Delgado province due to ongoing heavy rainfall. At least five people have been killed since rains began on December 25, and thousands of others have been affected. A bridge linking Pemba with the northern districts collapsed overnight on December 26-27, cutting off access to Meluco, Macomia, Muidumbe, Mueda, Nangade, Palma, and Mocimboa da Praia districts. A warning has been issued for possible flooding near the Zambezi River. The adverse weather is expected to persist as the country enters its rainy season; other provinces are likely to be affected.
Papua New Guinea
Early on December 28, around 20 armed men early robbed the office of an air transport company at Madang Airport (MAG). At least one assailant was killed, and two others injured in a shoot-out with the police. The criminals had blocked the road to the airport using a tree trunk, delaying police response. Travelers should adopt stringent security precautions, including in places expected to be relatively well-secured such as airports.
Yesterday, the extremist al-Shabab group claimed responsibility for an attack two days prior in Mogadishu. At least 90 people were killed, and more than 100 others injured after a large vehicle bomb exploded at around 8:00 AM local time at the Ex-Control Afgooye junction on the city’s outskirts. The incident reflects Mogadishu’s extreme travel risks; travel should be for business-critical purposes only and requires stringent precautions.
Over the coming days, travelers in Omdurman should anticipate and avoid demonstrations linked to recent unrest outside the city’s court building. Yesterday, protesters gathered during the hearing of national intelligence agents over the death of a demonstrator in February. After the court sentenced 29 defendants to death, the rally grew unruly. Security forces used tear gas to disperse the crowd; there were several casualties. The incident is likely to prompt further gatherings in Omdurman and other urban centers, including Khartoum.
Yemen is currently experiencing the world’s largest cholera outbreak to date. Cholera is consistently present in the country and is spread via contaminated food and water. Symptoms include vomiting and profuse, watery diarrhea which can lead to severe dehydration. Travelers staying in quality accommodations with access to safe water and food are at low risk. Travelers are advised to pay strict attention to hygiene and consider vaccination.
A gang armed with machetes broke into a gold mine on December 28 in Kadoma, 81 miles southwest of Harare. The assailants attacked police officers who had been sent to the site, killing one of them and injuring another. The incident highlights the risk of violent crime in areas outside main urban centers, particularly at commercial sites such as mines. Travelers should exercise caution and ensure that their workplace has adequate security physical measures in place.
ASIA & THE PACIFIC
Travelers in Hong Kong should avoid a series of protests and plan journeys accounting for disruption in affected areas. A march planned by the Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF) for tomorrow is expected to be extremely well attended. Riot police are likely to be deployed at future rallies, and authorities may pre-emptively close Mass Transit Railway (MTR) stations.
Travelers should continue to monitor ongoing bushfires closely at least until February 2020. Authorities have issued fresh warnings for today as high temperatures in several states are expected to escalate the fire risks. In the state of Victoria, more than 4,000 people have fled to the coastline due to encroaching fires. Travelers should follow all official directives and be prepared to defer or change travel plans at short notice, especially for journeys to non-urban areas.
Travelers in Dhaka are reminded to exercise vigilance following recent small explosions in the city. At least six crude bombs on December 27, 29, and 30 detonated near Madhu’s Canteen at the Dhaka University campus. One person was injured in the December 30 blast. While police investigations are ongoing, the explosions occurred amid a dispute between student political groups. Separately, crude explosive devices on December 27 and 29 detonated near the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party’s Dhaka headquarters, ahead of the city’s local elections on January 30, 2020.
Several cases of pneumonia are under investigation in Wuhan, Hubei. Anyone with symptoms who has been in the affected area should seek medical attention.
Travelers should plan journeys in the coming days accounting for residual disruption due to the passage of Tropical Cyclone Sarai. While most flights to/from the country have resumed, flooding and debris continue to affect overland travel. Strong wind warnings remain in effect in Fulaga, Kabara, Komo, Namuka-i-Lau, Lakeba, Moce, Ogea, and Oneata.
Travelers in Tbilisi overnight on December 31 December – January 1 should anticipate heightened security outside the Parliament building, where an anti-government protest is due to take place, and plan routes bypassing it where possible. Supporters of opposition parties and civil society groups have called for a demonstration against the arrests of ten protesters early today. Tents set up by anti-government demonstrators outside the building were also removed to clear the way for New Year decorations and children’s attractions.
Today through Thursday, January 2, travelers in urban centers should anticipate increased security and traffic disruption during the New Year holiday period. Traffic restrictions will be imposed around important facilities ahead of New Year’s Eve celebrations. These include religious sites, transportation hubs, and commercial and entertainment areas. In New Delhi, traffic restrictions will be imposed beginning at 8:00 PM local time today in Connaught Place and adjacent areas. Traffic diversions can also be expected in areas where large crowds are likely to gather.
Travelers in Rakhine are reminded of the potential for spillover violence following three roadside bombings on December 19 in Manaung Township. The incident took place along a road leading to Manaung Airport (MGU) ahead of the country’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s arrival. No injuries resulted from the explosion. The incident followed clashes between the military and the ethnic-Rakhine Arakan Army (AA) insurgents.
New Caledonia (France)
Travelers should continue to exercise caution, follow all official directives, and check the status of routes due to extended fire danger warnings. These warnings, which have been in place since September, are likely to continue into January 2020 due to dry weather conditions. A climate emergency was declared on December 26. A fireworks ban has been issued, and short-notice open fire bans are possible. While all red alerts (the highest level on a four-tier scale) and orange alerts (second-highest level) were lifted today, yellow alerts remain in place for several areas in North and South provinces, including Sarramea, Paita, Dumbea and Isle of Pines island.
Chiang Mai International Airport (CNX) will close at 7:00 PM local time today to avoid the potential hazard posed by fireworks and lanterns during New Year’s Eve celebrations. More than 54 flights will be canceled, and another 37 rescheduled. Passengers transiting the facility during the affected period should reconfirm flights.
Travelers should plan journeys accounting for disruption during the passage of Tropical Cyclone Sarai. On its current trajectory, the storm is expected to pass to the north of Tongatapu Island tonight. Sarai may make landfall overnight on December 31-January 1 on the Ha’apai Islands. While flights are currently operating at Fua’amotu International Airport (TBU), short-notice disruption is possible.
Travelers in the UK and European Union (EU) should continue to monitor developments and follow all government guidelines related to the process of the UK leaving the EU, known as “Brexit.” The EU has agreed on a flexible extension date of January 31, 2020. Local gatherings relating to Brexit may take place in the UK, with most such events likely to be focused on Parliament Square in London.
Travelers should factor continuing significant transport disruption into their journeys, as nationwide strikes over planned pension reforms persist. The Transilien, Intercites, TER, and TGV rail networks are among those affected, with significantly reduced services. While the overall level of disruption has decreased, strikes will continue into the New Year. Related wellattended demonstrations have occurred nationwide since December 5, with the next gatherings planned for January 9, 2020.
Passengers of Germanwings should anticipate disruption and reconfirm bookings due to a cabin crew strike. The threeday strike is currently ongoing and will last through 11:59 PM local time on Wednesday, January 1. Most disruption is expected at Cologne Bonn (CGN), Dusseldorf (DUS), and Munich (MUC) airports. The walkout is being organized by the flight attendants’ labor union, UFO, as part of a salary and working conditions dispute with flag carrier Lufthansa, the parent company of Germanwings.
Travelers should plan journeys accounting for disruption from ongoing heavy rainfall, strong winds, and snowstorms. Today, an Orange Alert remains in place for the Northern Aegean region and the Cyclades. Sections of the A1 Motorway have been closed due to dangerous traffic conditions.
An increase in mumps cases has been reported nationwide. Cases reported this year have been significantly higher than those reported last year. Mumps is caused by a virus that spreads from person-to-person via infected droplets. It is highly contagious, and nearly all cases occur among unvaccinated people. Symptoms include fever, painful and swollen glands, pain on swallowing, and inflammation of the testes in men. Serious complications can occur. All travelers should ensure they are fully vaccinated against mumps.
Today, travelers should expect significant delays for air traffic arriving at Lisbon Airport (LIS) due to low visibility in the area. Travelers are advised to reconfirm flights before heading to the airport.
Yesterday, the Federal Security Service (FSB) announced the arrests of two terror suspects in St Petersburg. According to authorities, the suspects had confessed to their plans to carry out terror attacks over the New Year holiday period. Local media reported that the potential targets included a cathedral and a shopping center. The thwarted terror plot underscores the continued risks posed by militancy in Russia, as well as authorities’ counter-terror capabilities.
Travelers in Belgrade should plan journeys bypassing a demonstration planned on January 4 as part of the “1 in 5 million” campaign against President Aleksandar Vucic and his ruling party. While no location has been announced, a related rally was held outside Belgrade University’s Philosophy Department on December 28. Previous protests have also been held at the National Assembly, the Presidential Palace, and the headquarters of national broadcaster RTS. Demonstrations have been taking place across Serbia since November 2018. While most have been peaceful, some have caused local disruption. Scuffles between police and protesters also remain possible.
An increase in mumps cases has been reported nationwide. Cases reported this year have been significantly higher than those reported last year. Mumps is caused by a virus that spreads from person-to-person via infected droplets. It is highly contagious and nearly all cases occur among unvaccinated people. Symptoms include fever, painful and swollen glands, pain on swallowing, and inflammation of the testes in men. Serious complications can occur. All travelers should ensure they are fully vaccinated against mumps.