New Travel Advisories and Voluntary/Mandatory Departures: Micronesia (L3), Tajikistan (L3), Mongolia (L4)

 

On March 18, the State Department issued new Level 3 Reconsider Travel Advisories for Micronesia and Tajikistan, and a Level 4 Travel Advisory for Mongolia. It also announced the voluntary departure order for two posts for non-emergency staffers and family members and a mandatory departure order for one post for  all non-essential personnel. Voluntary or “authorized departure” means employees and family members have the option to remain at post. An “ordered departure” is a mandatory order to leave post (see more below).
On March 11, 2020, the Department of State allowed for the voluntary departure of non-emergency U.S. Government employees and all eligible family members from US Embassy Kolonia, in Micronesia “due to stringent travel restrictions that affect commercial flights.”
On March 12, the Department ordered the departure of all nonessential personnel from U.S. Embassy Ulaanbaatar  “due to travel, transport, and other restrictions related to Mongolia’s response to the ongoing outbreak of COVID-19.”
On March 13, 2020, the State Department allowed for the voluntary departure of non-emergency personnel and family members of U.S. government employees from US Embassy Dushanbe due to “declining commercial flight availability and travel screening procedures implemented by the Government of Tajikistan.”
Micronesia Travel Advisory – Level 3 Reconsider Travel (March 18, 2020)

Reconsider Travel to the Federated States of Micronesia due to the Global Health Advisory and Embassy Kolonia’s limited capacity to provide support to U.S. citizens.

On March 11, 2020, the Department of State allowed for the voluntary departure of non-emergency U.S. Government employees and all eligible family members due to stringent travel restrictions that affect commercial flights.

As of March 18, 2020, there are no confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), but the country’s health system has limited capacity for handling an outbreak.  A recent reduction in commercial flights and difficulty in arranging medevac flights may make it difficult or impossible to seek medical evacuation.  Travelers should consider these factors and their health before traveling to the FSM and follow the Centers for Disease Control’s guidelines for the prevention of coronavirus if they decide to travel.

Mongolia Travel Advisory: Level 4: Do Not Travel (March 18, 2020)

Do Not Travel to Mongolia due to the Global Health Advisory and Mongolia’s suspension of all international travel in response to the ongoing outbreak of COVID-19 in neighboring countries.

On March 10, 2020, Mongolia suspended travel to and from foreign locations until at least March 28. Virtually all commercial flights, passenger rail, and auto traffic into and out of Mongolia are suspended during this time period. Domestic air and rail travel will also be suspended from March 10 until at least March 16. For the most up-to-date information regarding COVID-19-related issues affecting travelers in Mongolia please see the U.S Embassy in Mongolia’s COVID-19 Information page.

On February 25, 2020, the Department of State allowed for the voluntary departure of non-emergency U.S. government employees and all family members. On March 12, the Department ordered the departure of all nonessential personnel due to travel, transport, and other restrictions related to Mongolia’s response to the ongoing outbreak of COVID-19.

Tajikistan Travel Advisory – Level 3: Reconsider Travel (March 18, 2020)

Reconsider travel to Tajikistan due to the Global Health Advisory and measures implemented by the Government of Tajikistan in response to COVID-19.

On March 13, 2020, the State Department allowed for the voluntary departure of non-emergency personnel and family members of U.S. government employees due to declining commercial flight availability and travel screening procedures implemented by the Government of Tajikistan.

Travelers should be prepared for travel restrictions to be put into effect with little or no advance notice. Visit the U.S. Embassy Dushanbe website for additional information on these new measures.

Medical protocols in Tajikistan are not consistent with U.S. standards.  Consider declining any medical testing unrelated to COVID-19.

Due to the possibility of quarantine of unknown length, carry additional supplies of necessary medication in carry-on luggage.  Contact the U.S. Embassy if you are subject to quarantine or prior to undergoing any invasive medical testing or procedures.

Meanwhile we got a question in our inbox about Lebanon (a Level 3 Reconsider Travel country per Lebanon Travel Advisory issued on October 21, 2019):
“Beirut airport just closed and that means no way out due to geography.  Why are they not on OD? Who is in charge at State?”
Per 3 FAM 3770, “authorized departure” is an evacuation procedure, short of ordered departure, by which post employees and/or eligible family members are permitted to leave post in advance of normal rotation when U.S. national interests or imminent threat to life requires it. Departure is requested by the chief of mission (COM) and approved by the Under Secretary for Management (M).
An “ordered departure” is  an evacuation procedure by which the number of U.S. government employees, eligible family members, or both, at a Foreign Service post is reduced. Ordered departure is mandatory and may be initiated by the chief of mission or the Secretary of State.

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US Embassy Jamaica Shows How to Do Public Communication During a Pandemic

On March 11, US Embassy Kingston released an official response to Reports of U.S. Embassy Personnel Testing Positive for COVID-19. See US Embassy Jamaica Employee Reportedly Tested Positive of COVID-19, Routine Consular Services Suspended
On March 16, the Government of Jamaica announced a mandatory self-quarantine effective March 18: “For all persons entering Jamaica from countries where there is local transmission of COVID-19, will now be required to self-quarantine for up to 14 days. This measure will take effect from Wednesday, March 18, 2020.”
On March 17, 2020, US Embassy Kingston issued an update on the status of the COVID-19 positive employee at post, the number of employees — fourteen (14) — placed under quarantine, decontamination efforts at the embassy and its work to provide assistance to its host country. The update has been released as a press statement and also released on Twitter. The US Ambassador to Jamaica Donald Tapia has also addressed the status of the embassy staffer on Twitter.

Kingston- On Tuesday March 10, the U.S. Embassy in Kingston received information that an employee was in isolation on suspicion of COVID-19. Out of an abundance of caution, the U.S. Embassy took the following appropriate mitigation steps. In alignment with Jamaican health authorities and World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines, the staff of the entire consular section where the individual works, and anyone who came in close contact with them were ordered to remain at home and notify the embassy and the Ministry of Health & Wellness immediately if they developed symptoms related to COVID-19.

As a preventive measure, within 24 hours of the incident, the Embassy flew in from Washington, DC a U.S. Department of State decontamination team that sanitized the affected areas of the embassy.

“Today, the employee is in good spirits and recovering well. There have been no reports of local transmission via contact to any U.S. Embassy employee. In addition to addressing the embassy case of COVID-19, the U.S. mission in Kingston continues its collaborative efforts with the Government of Jamaica (GoJ) to support its nation-wide efforts to respond to the pandemic.” says Ambassador Donald Tapia.

Following the initial precautionary steps taken, the Embassy attending physician, in consultation with other medical experts conducted assessments of the staff who were ordered to remain at home and made final determination on who to remain on home quarantine. A total of fourteen (14) individuals remain at home for the remainder of the 14 days which ends on March 24th and none has developed symptoms as of today.

In addition to taking care of our mission staff community, the Embassy is also working hard to provide support to the GOJ including: an offer to MoHW of support through Embassy staff physicians and other public health professionals who can provide assistance in the areas of contact tracing, data management and clinical care if needed. The embassy is also in the process of acquiring resources from U.S. government agencies for support in the areas of medical equipment, PPE, and testing kits, to supplement GoJ’s efforts.

Tapia states, “We want to congratulate the GoJ and the Health and Wellness Ministry for its timely reporting of COVID-19 cases and aggressive containment strategy. The ministry has shown that one of the best defenses is appropriate public sensitization on preventative methods and the importance of early case recognition.”

Fighting this pandemic requires an all-hands-on-deck approach. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. We remind all persons to follow the guidance given through the Ministry of Health and Wellness. Those who suspect that they have had exposure to COVID-19 and are displaying symptoms to self-isolate immediately and contact the Ministry of Health & Wellness at 888-ONE-LOVE (663-5683) or 888-754-7792 for further instructions.