Pakistan (Security threat level – 5): On 16 July 2019, the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) announced the reopening of its airspace to all civil air traffic with immediate effect. The CAA had maintained airspace restrictions since February 2019, following aerial clashes and a period of heightened tensions between Pakistan and India.
Philippines / Taiwan (Security threat levels – 4 / 2): According to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, as of 0900 UTC on 16 July 2019, Tropical Storm 06W was located approximately 1,090 km (675 mi) south-southwest of the United States’ Kadena Air Base, located in Okinawa, Japan. At that time, the storm was moving west-northwest at a speed of 22 kph (14 mph) and had maximum sustained winds of 46 kph, with gusts of up to 65 kph. The storm is expected to strengthen into Tropical Storm Danas over the next 24-48 hours. The storm is currently forecast to approach the Philippines and eastern Taiwan in the coming days, bringing strong winds, heavy rain and potential flash flooding.
Nigeria / Ghana (Security threat levels – 5 / 3): On the morning of 16 July 2019, armed pirates attacked a Turkish-flagged cargo vessel approximately 230 km (124 mi) off the coast of Brass, Nigeria, and took 10 Turkish nationals hostage. During the attack, the pirates boarded the vessel, damaged the communications and navigation equipment and took the sailors hostage. Reports indicate that the attackers left an additional eight crew members onboard the vessel unharmed and no casualties were reported. The ship has reportedly entered Ghana’s territorial waters and attempts to communicate with the pirates to secure the crew members’ release are ongoing. The vessel was traveling from Douala, Cameroon, to Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, at the time of the attack. Piracy and kidnapping for ransom at sea are prominent security concerns in the Gulf of Guinea.
Bolivia (Security threat level – 3):
On 15 July 2019, the U.S. Embassy in La Paz issued a Health Alert, which reads in part as follows:
“Events: This notice provides information on several viruses currently present in Bolivia: Influenza H3N2, an Arenavirus Hemorrhagic Fever, and RSV.
Influenza H3N2: In Bolivia, “flu season” typically runs from April to September with the peak occurring at the end of June. This year, the peak occurred right on schedule and the numbers of new cases have declined each week. Santa Cruz was by far the department most affected. Influenza H3N2 was the predominant strain and the cause of several deaths.
New World Arenaviral Hemorrhagic Fever: According to the Ministry of Health, one individual from Caranavi died in May 2019 after presenting with symptoms consistent with hemorrhagic fever. Three medical professionals then contracted the virus, with two dying, respectively, on June 4 and July 10; the other remains in intensive care. There have been no additional cases reported by the Ministry of Health.
In South America, arenaviral hemorrhagic fever is rare but not unknown. Arenaviruses are maintained in an animal reservoir host (usually a rodent), occur in a limited region, and are restricted by the geographical distribution of the animal. Humans can be infected when arenaviruses contact their mucous membranes or broken skin. Person-to-person transmission can occur when there is exposure to infected body secretions during close contact.
Arenaviruses are treated with an antiviral medication. Onset of symptoms follows an incubation period of one to two weeks. Initial symptoms often include fever, malaise, muscle aches, and poor appetite. Most patients improve after a week or so, but about one third of untreated cases become severe after three to four days and result in fatality. Arenaviruses can be inactivated by most detergents and disinfectants, including 1% sodium hypochlorite (bleach). The risk of arenavirus infections can be decreased by avoiding contact with the reservoir host (usually rodents) and its excretions.
Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV): Bolivia has also experienced a surge in respiratory syncytial virus cases that started in February 2019 and peaked in April. The trend continues downward but remains higher than last year’s levels. Respiratory syncytial virus, known more commonly as RSV, is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild cold symptoms and resolves in a week or two. However, RSV can cause serious respiratory symptoms in infants and older adults, including bronchiolitis and pneumonia. Treatment is focused on alleviating the symptoms.
Rwanda (Security threat level – 3): On 16 July 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for Rwanda, which reads in part as follows:
“Visitors to the region should be aware that on 1 August 2018 an outbreak of Ebola was confirmed in North Kivu province, DRC. New cases continue to be reported across the affected areas. On 14 July 2019, there was a confirmed case in Goma, close to the DRC-Rwanda border. The Rwandan government has put in place screening procedures for Ebola at all entry points, including land borders and at airports. Specific requirements remain in place for anyone wishing to enter Rwanda from Ebola-affected areas of DRC.”
Security threat levels range from 1 (Very Low) to 5 (Very High) and are determined using a comprehensive system that utilizes both qualitative and quantitative analysis. The primary factors used to determine a location’s security threat level are Armed Conflict, Crime, Demonstrations/Strikes, Ethnic/Sectarian Tensions, Graft/Corruption, Kidnapping, Political Instability, Government Restriction and Terrorism.