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Moving or travelling abroad: 2018-2019 Global disease and security report for expats and the globally mobile

It may not feel like it sometimes, but the world is safer now than it has ever been. Fewer people die in wars, from disease or starvation than ever before.

Even so, some places are more dangerous than others for several reasons, so it is essential to research the threat level of places you plan to go.

This article lists a few popular global destinations and assesses how safe they are to travel to this year and into 2019. It has been prepared in conjunction with our worldwide safety and security service provider. We can provide international advice and support to members with certain Aetna International plans. The information is designed to highlight certain disease-related preparation you can undertake and to provide information that helps you to decide whether to go abroad or not.

Through its network of global partners, Aetna International can provide international private medical insurance cover, along with health and wellness support, services and advice on aspects of the following in case of emergencies while abroad:

[All information correct at June 14 2018.]

Is it safe to travel to London, UK in 2018? UK Travel warnings

Inform Index Risk Class: VERY LOW

Diseases

Terror

War/civil unrest

Kidnap and ransom

Natural disaster

Miscellaneous

Measles is one of the leading causes of death among young children in the UK. Seek advice on vaccinations.

The current threat level of terrorism to the UK is considered ‘severe’ as several attacks have taken place in the UK since March 2017 causing multiple deaths. Incidents usually occur in big cities but have been known to take place in towns.

2.5 (Inform Human Hazard from the Inform 2018 Risk Index)

3.5 (kidnaps per 100k people)

 

Kidnap is rare and usually involves children, of which around half involve people known to the victim.

2.1 – safe (Natural Disaster score from the Inform 2018 Risk Index)

There have been incidents of passengers being sexually assaulted and robbed when using unlicensed taxis. Violent crime, such as mugging and sexual assault occurs, particularly in larger cities. Exercise a high degree of caution.

 

 


Is it safe to travel to Mexico in 2018?

Inform Index Risk Class: MEDIUM

Diseases

Terror

War/civil unrest

Kidnap and ransom

Natural disaster

Miscellaneous

Chikungunya and Zika virus are both currently a threat. Both are spread to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. Pregnant women should be particularly concerned about Zika. Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.

There’s no recent history of terrorism in Mexico.

9.0

 

Demonstrations occur regularly throughout the country. Protests and roadblocks are common in Mexico City, including to and from the airport, and in the states of Chiapas, Guerrero, Michoacán and Oaxaca.

Mexico has the world’s highest risk of K&R.

 

94% of those kidnapped are Mexican nationals.

 

Mexico’s official statistics record a 15% decline in reported kidnaps.

7.0 – med/high risk (Natural Disaster score from the Inform 2018 Risk Index)

 

Hurricanes usually occur from mid-May to the end of November. During this period, even small tropical storms can quickly develop into major hurricanes.

 

Some of Mexico’s volcanoes are active.

 

Avoid non-essential travel to the following northern and western states due to high levels of violence, linked mainly to organized crime:

·         Chihuahua

·         Coahuila (except the city of Saltillo)

·         Durango

·         Nuevo León (except the city of Monterrey)

·         Sinaloa (except the city of Mazatlán)

·         Sonora (except the cities of Hermosillo and Guaymas/San Carlos)

·         Tamaulipas

·         Guerrero (including Acapulco but excluding Ixtapa/ Zihuatanejo and Taxco), Michoacán (excluding Morelia) and Colima (excluding Manzanillo)

Exercise a high degree of caution in the cities that are excluded from the above advisory.

 


Is it safe to travel to Thailand in 2018?

Inform Index Risk Class: MEDIUM

Diseases

Terror

War/civil unrest

Kidnap and ransom

Natural disaster

Miscellaneous

Standard recommended vaccinations for Thailand include:

·         Tetanus

·         Diphtheria

·         Measles

·         Mumps

·         Rubella

·         Typhoid

·         Hepatitis A. 

 

You may need extra jabs if you’re travelling to rural areas.

 

Rabies has been reported in domestic and wild animals.

 

High levels of air pollution can occur in major urban areas, including in Bangkok and Chiang Mai.

Medium.

 

Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Thailand. Bomb and grenade attacks have been indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners.

 

The far south provinces of Songkhla, Yala, Pattani, and Narathiwat frequently experience criminally- and politically- motivated violence in the form of drive-by shootings, ambushes, and small bomb attacks.

4.6

 

The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all but essential travel to the provinces on the Thai-Malaysia border, including:

·         Pattani

·         Yala

·         Narathiwat

·        Southern Songkhla province

 

Incidence of kidnappings is low, but the potential exists.

6.3 – medium risk (Natural Disaster score from the Inform 2018 Risk Index)

N/A


Is Vietnam safe to travel to in 2018?

Inform Index Risk Class: MEDIUM

Diseases

Terror

War/civil unrest

Kidnap and ransom

Natural disaster

Miscellaneous

UK health authorities have classified Vietnam as having a risk of Zika virus transmission.

 

Standard recommended vaccinations for Vietnam include:

·         Tetanus

·         Diphtheria

·         Measles

·         Mumps

·         Rubella

·         Typhoid

·         Hepatitis A

There is no recent history of terrorism in Vietnam

3.0

The kidnapping of foreigners for ransom is rare. More common is taxi kidnapping, in which passengers riding in illegal taxis are taken to a remote location and threatened until they pay a “ransom” to be released.

7.2 med/high risk (Natural Disaster score from the Inform 2018 Risk Index)

 

Tropical cyclones affect the eastern coastal regions. 

There has been a reported increase in incidents of personal belongings and bags being snatched, including from people travelling on motorbikes in big cities and tourist areas such as Ho Chi Minh City and Nha Trang


Is it safe to travel to UAE, Dubai? Is Dubai safe?

Inform Index Risk Class: LOW

Diseases

Terror

War/civil unrest

Kidnap and ransom

Natural disaster

Miscellaneous

Standard recommended vaccinations for UAE include:

·         Tetanus

·         Diphtheria

·         Measles

·         Mumps

·         Rubella

·         Typhoid

·         Hepatitis A. 

 

Rabies is not a major risk to tourists.

 

Terrorists are likely to try to carry out attacks in the UAE.

 

Terrorists continue to issue statements threatening to carry out attacks in the Gulf region.

0.1

 

In 2018, numerous missiles have been launched into Saudi Arabia from Yemen. The vast majority of these have been intercepted and destroyed but there have been a small number of casualties. Claims have been made in public media suggesting that there may also be attempts to target missiles at the UAE.

Very rare.

 

0.8 (kidnaps per 100k people)

 

6.1 – medium risk (Natural Disaster score from the Inform 2018 Risk Index)

 

Earthquakes have been known to affect Dubai.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) authorities have announced the suspension of diplomatic relations with Qatar. All air and sea points of entry between UAE and Qatar were closed on 6 June 2017.

 

The UAE authorities announced on 7 June 2017 that showing sympathy for Qatar on social media or by any other means of communication is an offence. 

 

Personal attacks, including sexual assault and rape, are relatively rare.


Is it safe to travel to China in 2018?

Inform Index Risk Class: MEDIUM

Diseases

Terror

War/civil unrest

Kidnap and ransom

Natural disaster

Miscellaneous

High levels of air pollution can occur in major urban and industrialised areas in China, and may aggravate bronchial, sinus or asthma conditions.

 

Avian flu has infected a number of people but the WHO does not recommend any specific different measures for travellers. Avoid contact with high-risk environments such as live animals. markets/farms and live poultry, or surfaces that might be contaminated by poultry faeces.

 

Standard recommended vaccinations for China include:

·         Tetanus

·         Diphtheria

·         Measles

·         Mumps

·         Rubella

·         Typhoid

·         Hepatitis A. 

 

Rabies and yellow fever is not a major risk to tourists.

Terrorists are likely to try to carry out attacks in China. Although foreigners haven’t been specifically targeted, attacks may occur in places visited by foreigners.

8.1

While kidnap and ransom of foreign nationals is very rare, reliable statistics about Chinese crime is hard to find.

 

Most kidnapping is of

Chinese children for trafficking.

7.9 – high risk (Natural Disaster score from the Inform 2018 Risk Index)

 

China is subject to various natural disasters, including earthquakes, flooding and typhoons.

Foreign nationals over the age of 16 must carry their passport at all times.


Is Singapore safe to travel to in 2018?

Inform Index Risk Class: VERY LOW

Diseases

Terror

War/civil unrest

Kidnap and ransom

Natural disaster

Miscellaneous

Dengue fever and the chikungunya virus are present.

 

UK health authorities have classified Singapore as having a risk of Zika virus transmission.

 

Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease is common in Singapore with more serious outbreaks from time to time. Young children are particularly at risk.

 

Haze can affect air quality in Singapore. 

Terrorists are likely to try to carry out attacks in Singapore.

0.1

Singapore continues to enjoy one of the lowest crime rates in the world.

 

There have only been three confirmed cases of kidnapping-for-ransom in the last 12 years, and all perpetrators were arrested and jailed for life. 

 

Kidnapping scams – where an individual calls a family and advises them that a member of the family has been kidnapped and will be harmed unless a ransom is paid – are common.

0.1 – safe (Natural Disaster score from the Inform 2018 Risk Index)

 

Be aware of the risk of street crime, in particular bag snatching.


Is it safe to travel to South Africa in 2018?

Inform Index Risk Class: MEDIUM

Diseases

Terror

War/civil unrest

Kidnap and ransom

Natural disaster

Miscellaneous

There are no compulsory vaccinations for South Africa required for travellers from Western Europe to gain entry. However, a Yellow Fever vaccination certificate could be required for travellers coming from some endemic zones in Africa and the Americas.

 

Plasmodium falciparum malaria has been reported.

 

There have been over 900 cases of listeriosis in South Africa since January 2017. Do not eat pre-cooked, ready to eat, cold meat products.

 

17.9 of the adult population live with HIV.

Terrorists are likely to try to carry out attacks in South Africa.

 

The main threat is from extremists linked to Daesh (formerly referred to as ISIL)

5.6

 

There are regular protest marches and strike related demonstrations across South Africa, which can turn violent. Such marches and demonstrations can occur anywhere in South Africa, sometimes at short notice. You should avoid areas where demonstrations and marches are taking place, especially universities and government buildings. 

South Africa is the 19th most dangerous place for kidnap and ransom – tied with Malaysia.

 

There’s an increasing threat of kidnap throughout South Africa. Kidnaps can be for financial gain or motivated by criminality. In recent years several foreign nationals, including British nationals, have been kidnapped.

4.4 – medium risk (Natural Disaster score from the Inform 2018 Risk Index)

 

The Western Cape is suffering from prolonged drought. 

 

Tropical cyclones can occur and earthquakes are rare – and rarely fatal.

There is a very high level of crime including rape and murder in South Africa. The most violent crimes tend to occur in townships, remote and isolated areas and away from the normal tourist destinations. Most visits to South Africa are trouble-free, but you should take sensible precautions to protect your safety. 

 

 


Is it safe to travel to Paris, France in 2018?

Inform Index Risk Class: LOW

Diseases

Terror

War/civil unrest

Kidnap and ransom

Natural disaster

Miscellaneous

There is an outbreak of measles in France.

 

Seek advice on vaccinations.

Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in France.

 

In May 2018 The US Department and State Bureau of Diplomatic Security issued a warning to US citizens in France saying: “terrorists are intent on targeting U.S. citizens, including children.”

3.2

 

Some news outlets are reporting that student and worker protests and demonstrations could be on the rise in France.

4.6 (kidnaps per 100k people)

 

Europe makes up only 1% of the global kidnap figures – compared to the Americas (48%), and Asia Pacific (22%).

 

France has paid $58m to Al Qaeda to release kidnapped citizens since 2008.

 

 

3.7 – safe

(Natural Disaster score from the Inform 2018 Risk Index)

 

There is a very slight risk of earthquake; though only 10 people have died in earthquakes since 1959.

 


Is it safe to travel to Spain in 2018?

Inform Index Risk Class: LOW

Diseases

Terror

War/civil unrest

Kidnap and ransom

Natural disaster

Miscellaneous

Standard recommended vaccinations for Spain include:

·         Tetanus

·         Diphtheria

·         Measles

·         Mumps

·         Rubella

·         Typhoid

·         Hepatitis A. 

 

Terrorists are likely to try to carry out attacks in Spain.

 

Spanish police have disrupted a number of groups suspected of recruiting individuals to travel to Syria and Iraq from 2015 to the present date. Some of them expressed an intention to carry out attacks in Europe.

4.1

 

There have been large politically-motivated gatherings of people in Barcelona and other areas of Catalonia. More are likely and even those intended to be peaceful may turn violent.

The Basque terrorist organisation ETA hasn’t mounted any attacks since 2009.

0.2 (kidnaps per 100k people)

 

Very rare.

 

 

4.4 safe/medium risk (Natural Disaster score from the Inform 2018 Risk Index)

 

Forest fires occur frequently in Spain.

Be alert to the existence of street crime. 


Thinking of relocating abroad?

At Aetna International, we offer would-be expats and the globally mobile health and wellness benefit plans that focus on the best possible health outcomes.

We understand the challenges and opportunities that an international relocation can bring – for you and your family. Not only can we help you keep fit and well with our well-being solutions, but we can help you access the care and support you need if you do fall ill.

Get in touch with one of our expert sales consultants for more information or help selecting the right medical insurance plan. Get a quote or request a call back here.

Are you managing the health of international employees?

Aetna International also understands the challenges and concerns of managing international teams. Will they be safe? Will they have the health and wellness support they need when they get there?

That’s why we build comprehensive international private medical insurance benefit plans that don’t just cover health care. We can also provide wraparound health and wellness services, including:

  • Pre-trip planning to ensure assignment success — including:

o   cultural awareness and acclimatisation,
o   information on accessing care abroad,
o   continuation of treatment and medication for on-going conditions

  • Emergency evacuation for medical and/or security reasons (war, civil unrest, kidnap and ransom)
  • Employee Assistance Program for access to counselling
  • Health Risk Assessments to help ensure the best possible health and wellness levels

If you’re interested to hear more about how we could help you support your international teams on assignment, why not give us a call?

Disclaimer

The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety abroad.

The content on this page is provided for information only. Aetna International does not assume responsibility and will not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided.

Aetna® is a trademark of Aetna Inc. and is protected throughout the world by trademark registrations and treaties.

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