AMERICAN CITIZEN SERVICES NEWSLETTER JANUARY 2009

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Korea US

Korea US

U.S. State Department, U.S. Embassy Seoul
Consular Section, American Citizen Services (ACS) Newsletter
January 2009

The U.S. Embassy is transmitting the following monthly newsletter via its warden system as a public service to U.S. citizens in the Republic of Korea.  Please feel free to disseminate this message to U.S. citizens in your organizations or to other Americans you know.

In this issue:

1. Have a Safe and Healthy Lunar New Year
2. Add Blank Pages to Your Passport
3. Korean Guidebook for Foreign Patients Published
4. Korea Launches English-Language Legal Information Website
5. U.S. Government Web Portal
6. South Pacific Cyclone Season
7. Recent Travel Warnings and Alerts
8. Upcoming Holidays: January 19, 26-27
9. Embassy Contact Information—————————————–
1. Have a Safe and Healthy Lunar New Year
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If international travel is part of your plan to ring in the Year of the Water Buffalo (January 26, 2009), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides the information below to help you learn how to stay healthy when traveling in Asia.

–Health Issues to Be Aware of–

Every destination, even in different areas of the same country, has unique health issues that travelers need to know about.  To find specific information about the areas you plan to visit, see the East Asia, South Asia, and Southeast Asia regional pages on the CDC Travelers’ Health website, or click on the country or countries you will be visiting at http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/destinationList.aspx.

Mosquito-borne illnesses, such as malaria, dengue fever, and Japanese encephalitis are common throughout Asia, so it is very important to take steps to prevent insect bites.  In addition, you may need to take prescription medicine to protect yourself from malaria or get a vaccine to protect yourself from Japanese encephalitis.  Talk to your doctor about which prevention measures are right for you and your destination.

Eating contaminated food and drinking contaminated water can cause illnesses such as hepatitis A, typhoid fever, and travelers’ diarrhea.  Learn more about these diseases and how you can prevent them by visiting the Safe Food and Water page of the Travelers’ Health website at http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/contentSafeFoodWater.aspx.

Influenza (also called the flu or seasonal flu) is a common illness in travelers, which is why it is important for you to get this season’s flu shot before your trip.  A different type of flu called avian influenza (“bird flu” or H5N1) has been found in poultry and wild birds in Asia, Europe, and Africa.  While rare, human infection and death from H5N1 have been reported.  Most of these human cases have occurred through contact with H5N1-infected poultry or birds, but a small number of cases may have occurred following close and prolonged contact with a person who was sick with the H5N1 virus.  To learn more about H5N1 virus, see the outbreak notice Human Infection with Avian Influenza A (H5N1) Virus: Advice for Travelers at  http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/contentAvianFluAsia.aspx.

–What to Do Before Your Trip–

It is important to prepare for your health before you leave.  Learn how by visiting Your Survival Guide to Safe and Healthy Travel at http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/contentSurvivalGuide.aspx.  Make an appointment to see a doctor familiar with travel medicine.  At the appointment, make sure to get all the vaccinations and medicines you need for your trip and discuss any allergies, current medications, or other health concerns with the doctor.  Be sure that you are up-to-date with all of your routine vaccinations, including this season’s flu shot.  Pack health items that you and your family may need on your trip.

–Stay Healthy During Your Trip–

Wash your hands often with soap and clean water.  Use an alcohol-based hand gel with at least 60% alcohol if soap and clean water are not available and your hands do not look dirty.  Remember to cover your cough: Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.  Clean your hands after coughing or sneezing by washing them with soap and water (or by using an alcohol-based hand gel).  Go to the doctor if you have a fever with a cough or sore throat, are having difficulty breathing, or feel very sick.  Tell the doctor if you may have been around a sick person or an animal that looked sick.  Avoid traveling when you are sick, unless it is to get local medical care.

Do not go to bird farms or live bird markets.  Make sure the meat and other foods from birds that you eat, like eggs and poultry blood, are fully cooked.  Egg yolks should not be runny or liquid.  Use insect repellent to prevent bites from insects and mosquitoes that can transmit malaria, dengue, and other infections.  If you are visiting an area with malaria, take your malaria prevention medicine.  Use sunscreen (at least SPF 15).  Be sure to apply sunscreen before applying insect repellent.  Road traffic injuries are the leading cause of injury-related deaths worldwide, so it is important to take precautions.

–Pay Attention to Your Health After Your Trip–

Pay very close attention to how you feel for at least ten days after you get home.  Go to the doctor right away if you have a fever with a cough or sore throat, or have trouble breathing; or have a fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, or flu-like illness and visited an area with a risk for malaria.  When you go to the doctor, tell your doctor about your recent travel.  Malaria can develop up to one year after travel, so stay alert for fever or other signs of illness.

———————————–
2. Add Blank Pages to Your Passport
———————————–

The L.A. Times recently ran the article linked below, “Add Blank Pages to Your Passport to Be on the Safe Side:”

“Question: My adult son, traveling with his wife and child, was recently refused permission to board a flight from England to South Africa because he had only one blank page in his passport.  How do you know which country wants more than one blank page?”  http://travel.latimes.com/articles/la-tr-spot9mar09

For information about how to add extra pages to your passport, see the Embassy website at: http://seoul.usembassy.gov/add_pages.html.

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3. Korean Guidebook for Foreign Patients Published
————————————————–

The Korea Times reports that the Seoul Metropolitan Government has published a guidebook for Korean medical and rescue staff on how to treat foreign patients.

Frequently-used phrases are written both in English and Korean for various scenarios – from situations in emergency rooms to fire and health checkups.  Phrases for internal medicines, surgery, family practice, dentistry, ophthalmology, and nine other departments are included.  The guidebook was edited by Dr. John Linton of Yonsei University-Severance Hospital.  The booklet is to be made available to local fire departments, 119 emergency rescue units, international clinics, and general hospitals with more than 300 sickbeds.  The city plans to add Japanese and Chinese versions in 2009.

————————————————————
4. Korea Launches English-Language Legal Information Website
————————————————————

The Korean Ministry of Government Legislation (MOLEG) has launched an English-language website to provide foreign investors, workers, students, and married immigrants in Korea with legal information.  The site was established to help foreigners with little or no understanding of the Korean language.  The site offers details on foreign investment, employment, marriage in Korea, and other topics.  The website address is http://oneclick.moleg.go.kr.

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5. U.S. Government Web Portal
—————————–

The U.S. Government’s official web portal, http://www.usa.gov/, contains information related to local, state, and federal governments.  You will find information on contacting elected officials, receiving government benefits, renewing a driver’s license, checking the status of an immigration case, and many more topics.

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6. South Pacific Cyclone Season
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American citizens residing in or traveling to the South Pacific region should be aware that the South Pacific cyclone season runs from November 1, 2008, through April 30, 2009.  Countries in the South Pacific region covered by this alert include Australia, Fiji, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, New Zealand, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu, as well as the territories of French Polynesia, New Caledonia, and Wallis and Futuna islands.  American citizens in this region during the cyclone season should monitor local weather reports and take other appropriate action as further discussed below.  This travel alert expires on April 30, 2009.

Each season, the South Pacific region experiences approximately nine tropical cyclones, about half of which reach Category 3 intensity or above and have the potential to cause severe destruction.

American citizens have often encountered uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous conditions after storms have passed while they awaited transportation back to the United States.  Many U.S. citizens traveling abroad in affected regions have been forced to delay their returns to the United States because of infrastructure damage to airports and limited flight availability.  Damage to roads can limit access to airports and land routes out of affected areas.  Flights can be suspended and passengers may face long delays before normal airport
operations and flight schedules resume.  U.S. embassies and consulates may be required to limit hours or temporarily suspend non-emergency services.  Looting and sporadic violence have occurred after natural disasters.  Security personnel may not be readily available to assist at all times.

Should a situation require an evacuation from an overseas location, the State Department will work with commercial airlines to ensure that U.S. citizens are repatriated as safely and efficiently as possible.  Commercial airlines are the Department’s primary source of transportation in an evacuation and evacuees are responsible for the cost of these flights.  Other means of transport are used only as a last resort.

The Department of State does not provide no-cost transportation, but it has the authority to provide repatriation loans to those in financial need.  U.S. citizens should always obtain travel insurance to cover unexpected expenses during an emergency.

U.S. citizens living in or traveling to storm-prone regions should prepare an emergency kit containing a supply of bottled water, non-perishable food items, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, and vital documents (especially passport and identification) in a waterproof container.  Emergency shelters often have access only to basic resources and limited medical and food supplies.

U.S. citizens should monitor local media to stay aware of any weather developments.  For further information on cyclone warnings in the South Pacific region, please consult the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (US military site) in Honolulu at http://metocph.nmci.navy.mil/jtwc.php,
as well as Fiji’s regional meteorological center responsible for cyclone warnings in the South Pacific region at http://www.met.gov.fj/index.php-id=53.  Minor tropical storms can develop into cyclones very quickly, limiting the time available for a safe evacuation.  Travelers should apprise family and friends in the United States of their whereabouts, and keep in close contact with their tour operator, hotel staff, and local officials for evacuation instructions in the event of a weather emergency.  Travelers should protect their travel and identity documents against loss or damage, as the need to replace lost documentation could hamper or delay return to the United States.

Additional information on cyclones and storm preparedness may be found on the Cyclone Season 2008-2009 page of the Bureau of Consular Affairs’ website at:
http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cyclone_season/cyclone_season_4395.html.  Updated
information on travel in cyclone-prone regions may be obtained from the Department of State by calling 1-888-407-4747 within the United States and Canada, or from other areas, 1-202-501-4444.  Travelers to the region are encouraged to check the internet site of the U.S. Embassy or
Consulate with consular responsibilities for the territory they will be visiting (accessible at http://usembassy.state.gov).  For further information please consult the Country Specific Information webpage for the country or territory in question, available at http://travel.state.gov.

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7. Recent Travel Warnings and Alerts
————————————

The U.S. Department of State has recently issued travel warnings or travel alerts for the following countries and regions:

Bangladesh    12/23/2008
Cote d’Ivoire    12/15/2008
India    12/24/2008
Mali    12/10/2008
South Pacific Cyclone Season    12/10/2008
Sri Lanka   12/22/2008

For additional information about these travel warnings and alerts, please go to this site:

http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/tw/tw_1764.html

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8. Upcoming Holidays: January 19, 26-27
—————————————

The U.S. Embassy will be closed on the following dates:

January 19 (Monday)   Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Birthday
January 26-27 (Monday-Tuesday)   Seol Nal (Lunar New Year’s Days)

Please be advised that the days just before and after a holiday are usually exceptionally busy in the American Citizen Services Unit of the Embassy.  Do not be surprised at a significantly longer wait for consular services on those days.  If you visit us outside those times, you should have a shorter wait.

A complete list of all of our holiday closings for 2009 is available on-line at http://seoul.usembassy.gov/holidays.html.

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9. Embassy Contact Information
——————————-

American Citizen Services
U.S. Embassy Seoul
32, Sejongno, Jongno-gu
Seoul 110-710, Korea

– or –

American Citizen Services
U.S. Embassy, Seoul
Unit #15550
APO AP 96205-5550

Tel: 02-397-4114
Fax: 02-397-4101
DSN: 721-4114
English:  http://www.asktheconsul.org/
Korean:  http://www.usavisas.org/
E-mail:  seoul_acs@state.gov

End of newsletter text.

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