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Visiting the Middle East Is at Your Own Peril



It’s not just Iran and Iraq that are unsafe right now for U.S. tourists and citizens in the wake of the American airstrike that killed Iranian military leader Qassem Soleimani at Baghdad’s international airport Friday.

The U.S. State Dept. is issuing advisories and twitter updates, warning of potential problems not only in the Middle East but in diverse places such as Italy and India.

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Right now, the U.S. has Level 4 travel advisories – do not travel to – for Iran and Iraq. The State Dept. has advised all citizens and tourists to leave those two countries immediately.

Israel and Jordan are at Level 2, which calls for increased caution and vigilance.

But the State Dept. has also tweeted about Italy and India.

Those were just several tweets the State Dept. issued cautioning Americans in places such as Bahrain, Morocco, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, United Arab Emirates and Kuwait to maintain “a high level of vigilance” and “good situational awareness.”

“Any of those places in the Middle East, I would have a heightened level of concern,” Tim Bradley told MarketWatch. Bradley is a managing partner of IMG GlobalSecur, a Tavares, Fla., a firm advising companies, nongovernmental organizations and mission groups on safe travel across the globe.

Bradley also said your own instincts will help.

“If you don’t feel comfortable somewhere, it’s time to leave,” he said.

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Parts of Italy Becoming a Focal Point of Coronavirus Outbreak



With more than 200 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and five deaths, Italy has suddenly become a focal point amidst fears of a global outbreak of the virus.

Several towns in northern Italy near Milan were in a virtual lockdown on Monday as Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has banned people from leaving infected areas. Italian police have been ordered to fine anyone caught entering or leaving certain towns – including tourists.

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“Protecting our citizens is the main priority,” said Stella Kyriakides, European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety. “We are all taking this situation seriously, but without giving in to panic, disorder or disinformation.”

And it’s not just northern Italy.

Roadblocks have been set up to stop people entering or leaving about a dozen Italian towns. In some areas, businesses, schools, universities, museums and tourist attractions have been closed and public events canceled. Venice even cut short its traditional carnivale, shutting down with three days still to go.

In Basilicata, in the southern region of Italy down near the bottom of the boot, Governor Vito Bardi ordered 14-day quarantines for anyone entering the area.

“We are following the situation in Italy very closely and commend the Italian authorities for their swift and efficient action,” Kyriakides said.

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