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December 15, 2021


China (Security threat level – 3): At approximately 1240 local time (0440 UTC) on 15 December 2021, a fire was reported at the World Trade Center in Hong Kong’s Causeway Bay commercial district. The blaze reportedly broke out in an electrical switch room on the first floor of the 38-story building and spread to bamboo scaffolding attached to the building. Emergency crews deployed to the scene and evacuated 770 people from the building. The three-alarm fire was fully extinguished after nearly four hours. At least 13 people were hospitalized, mostly due to smoke inhalation. One of those injured is hospitalized in critical condition. The cause of the fire is unknown.

Philippines (Security threat level – 4): As of 1800 local time (0900 UTC) on 15 December 2021, Typhoon Rai — locally known as Odette — was located approximately 620 km (385 mi) east-northeast of Davao and was moving west at 24 kph (15 mph), according to the U.S. Joint Typhoon Warning Center. At that time, Odette was generating maximum sustained winds of 130 kph, with gusts of up to 157 kph. On its current forecast path, the storm is expected to make landfall in the Caraga region on 16 December before passing over the Eastern, Central and Western Visayas regions as well as the Mimaropa region during 16-17 December. Odette is then expected to enter the South China Sea and gradually weaken. Authorities have warned of heavy rainfall and strong winds in the areas along the storm’s path and have begun deploying emergency resources for flood-control as well as search and rescue operations. Evacuation shelters are also being set up in the region. Additionally, flag carrier Philippine Airlines has so far canceled 37 flights on 16 December and one flight on 17 December.


Italy (Security threat level – 3): On 14 December 2021, the Health Ministry extended a nationwide state of emergency until 31 March 2022 due to concerns over the omicron variant of COVID-19 and reinstated the requirement for inbound travelers from other EU countries to show proof of a pre-departure negative COVID-19 test. As of 16 December, inbound travelers from other EU countries, including those who are fully vaccinated, will be required to provide a negative PCR test taken 48 hours before departure for Italy, or a negative rapid antigen test taken 24 hours prior to departure. Those who are unvaccinated will also be required to quarantine for a five-day period upon arrival and take an additional PCR or rapid antigen test at the end of the quarantine period. Italian authorities have reported at least 27 cases of the omicron variant, according to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control.

United Kingdom (Security threat level – 3): The U.K. government removed all 11 countries from its coronavirus-related “red list” for foreign travel, permitting travelers from Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe, to enter England as of 0400 local time/UTC on 15 December 2021. The government will monitor the COVID-19 epidemiological situation and re-list countries on the red list should conditions deteriorate. Following the change, travelers arriving from the aforementioned countries are no longer required to quarantine in hotels and are subject to the same requirements as travelers arriving from elsewhere in the world. All inbound travelers 12 years of age and older, including those who are fully vaccinated, must show a negative COVID-19 test (PCR or LFD) taken no more than 48 hours before travel. Additionally, fully vaccinated travelers remain subject to the following requirements: must complete a passenger locator form within 48 hours preceding arrival, take a PCR test on or before the second day after arrival and self-isolate until receiving a negative result. Those who are unvaccinated must complete the requirements applicable to fully vaccinated travelers; self-quarantine for 10 days; and take an additional PCR test on the eighth day of the quarantine period. Further details as outlined by the U.K. government are available here.


Bahrain (Security threat level – 3): On 15 December 2021, government officials announced the implementation of a “yellow alert” for COVID-19 on Bahrain’s traffic light alert system. The yellow alert — the second-lowest level on a four-tier scale — will remain in effect from 19 December until 31 January 2022. Under the new alert level, individuals who obtain a full COVID-19 vaccination or who have recovered from COVID-19 will be permitted to enter shopping malls, restaurants, cafes, barber shops, gyms and other businesses. Individuals who obtain COVID-19 booster shots will be able to operate under fewer restrictions. Further details as outlined by the Bahraini government are available here.


China (Security threat level – 3): On 15 December 2021, the U.S. Consulate General in Hong Kong and Macau issued a Security Alert regarding legislative elections on 19 December, which reads in part as follows:

“Location: Various locations throughout Hong Kong

“Events: The 2021 Hong Kong Legislative Council election is scheduled for Sunday, December 19, 2021.  600 polling stations located throughout Hong Kong will be open from 8:30am to 10:30pm. According to local media, the Hong Kong Police Force will deploy more than 10,000 police officers to provide security during the elections.”