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COVID-19 Update: Omicron Variant Sparks Concern Globally


  • On 26 November, the World Health Organization named the Omicron variant a "new variant of concern" after it had been identified a day earlier by scientists in South Africa. Omicron is spreading rapidly in South Africa, displacing Delta as the dominant strain among new cases, though it is unclear if Omicron originated in South Africa.
  • Omicron has been detected in South Africa, Botswana, and in travelers to Australia, Belgium, Britain, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany,  Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Hong Kong. This list will grow in the coming days and weeks. 
  • As a reaction to Omicron, many countries have banned flights from southern Africa, while several countries have significantly adjusted restrictions or banned all travel outright;

    • Israel - banned all foreign travelers until at least 11 December. Returning nationals must quarantine
    • Morocco - banned all incoming flights for at least the next two weeks.
    • Japan - indefinite entry ban for all foreign nationals.
    • Australia - flight suspension and entry ban for travelers and flights from southern Africa. Quarantine mandate and self-isolation requirement imposed for all international arrivals in Victoria, New South Wales, and Australian Capital Territory.
  • While it is too soon to compare the symptoms and severity of Omicron to other iterations of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, Omicron has a number of mutations affecting the spike protein, raising concerns over possible immune evasion and increased transmissibility, as was seen with Delta, which currently comprises 99% of cases globally. 
  • Pfizer-BioNTech expects to receive lab data on the Omicron variant within the next two weeks. It says that they can adapt mRNA vaccine within six weeks and possibly ship initial batches within 100 days in event of escape variant.
  • Moderna has told investors that it is evaluating a full booster dose of original vaccine, studying two multi-valent boosters, and plans on launching an Omicron-specific booster.
  • Johnson and Johnson has announced that it is already testing its vaccine’s efficacy against the new variant of concern.
  • Novavax is on pace to file for U.S. EUA before 2022. It has already applied for approval in the EU and Canada. Novavax is developing a new version of its vaccine and it will begin testing and manufacturing in the next few weeks.

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Rebels Advance Toward Addis Ababa

Situation Update
  • On 02 November 2021, the U.S. Department of State declared a “Level 4: Do Not Travel Advisory” for Ethiopia, restricting U.S. Embassy personnel from traveling outside of Addis Ababa and advising all U.S. citizens in Ethiopia to leave the country.

  • The advisory comes after rebel groups – the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) and the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) – seized two strategically important towns 235 miles north of the capital along Ethiopia’s north-south A2 highway, effectively splitting the country in two. Armed conflict and civil unrest continue in Amhara, Afar, and Tigray.

  • The Ethiopian central government declared a six-month state of emergency and authorities in Addis Ababa and the state of Amhara have also called on residents to register any weapons and prepare to fight. The state of emergency gives the government wide legal power to arrest anyone suspected of providing financial, material, or moral support to the rebel group. Reports of the arrests of ethnic Tigray in Addis have circulated over the past several days.

  • Addis Ababa Bole International Airport (HAAB/ADD) is still fully operational; however, it is unclear if ADD will remain open to commercial flights should conflict reach the outskirts of the city. Flights are reported to be fully booked, as diplomats, expatriates, government officials, and Ethiopian citizens flee Addis.
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COVID-19 Update: U.S. to Lift International Travel Restrictions


  • The United States will lift international travel restrictions on 08 November for fully vaccinated individuals. Those vaccines approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) will be accepted. In addition, the U.S. land borders with Canada and Mexico will re-open to fully vaccinated leisure travelers. A negative test will still be required for international air arrivals.

  • Australia is expected to lift restrictions on international travel in November, several months earlier than anticipated, due to high vaccination rates inside the country. At least 58 percent of the country has been fully vaccinated, just ahead of the United States.

  • Cases, hospitalizations, and deaths have all steadily declined in the U.S. Hotspots are now focused in the upper Midwest where earlier cool temperatures have led to more indoor activity. 

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Missionaries Kidnapped in Haiti

Situation Update

On 16 October, assailants in Port-au-Prince, Haiti kidnapped 17 members of an Ohio-based Anabaptist Christian aid group, including five children. The victims include 16 Americans and one Canadian. Local police suspect the involvement of the 400 Mawozo gang, who also kidnapped five priests and two nuns earlier this year.

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Clashes Erupt in Southern Beirut

Situation update

At approximately 1100 local time, sniper fire was reported against members and supporters of Lebanon’s Shia Hezbollah and the Amal Movement near the Palace of Justice in the Tayouneh area of Beirut, southeast of the city center.

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"Justice for J6" Rally Planned


On Saturday, 18 September, 2021, upwards of 700 people will return to the U.S. Capitol to rally in support of defendants charged in connection with the January 6 storming of the Capitol building following the pro-Trump "Stop the Steal" rally. The demonstration is planned for noon at Union Square, which encompasses the U.S. Capitol. Multiple road closures will be in effect.

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COVID-19 Update: EU Removes U.S. from "Safe List"


  • The European Union removed the United States from its "Safe List", causing several European nations to alter their entry restrictions on American travelers. For example, Spain now requires unvaccinated Americans to provide proof of a negative test, while Switzerland removed the U.S. from its own list of approved traveler countries. 
  • Pfizer expects to report data needed for vaccine approval in five to 11-year-olds later in September and could potentially submit an application for emergency use shortly after. It said data for kids aged two to under five could arrive soon after. For children between six months and two years, Pfizer has said it could have safety and immunogenicity data as early as October or November. It is likely all children in the U.S. 6mo and older will be able to receive Pfizer's vaccine by the start of 2022.
  • Hospitalizations in the U.S. appear to be flattening as the Delta variant wave looks to have peaked in much of the South. Hotspots are now in Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia. Daily deaths now average nearly 2,000/day and will likely peak in the next 10-14 days.

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Hurricane Ida leaves Severe Damage In its Wake


Hurricane Ida hit the Louisiana coast on Sunday as a Category 4 storm, bringing sustained 150 mph winds, massive storm surge, and torrential rains. As a result, more than one million customers remain without power in southeastern Louisiana, including in New Orleans, where all eight major transmission lines into the city have failed. Similarly, nearly 450,000 people are without running water in Louisiana. Several people have died as a result of the storm, and further fatalities are expected. 

The impact was felt in Mississippi as well, where multiple ports are at "Status Zulu", meaning no vessels may enter or transit the port without approval from the Coast Guard. Those under Port Status Zulu include the ports of Biloxi, Gulfport, Pascagoula, and Bienville. 

Damage to oil and gas infrastructure both on and offshore is being assessed, while prolonged disruptions to production, refining, and transportation of petroleum products could see a temporary spike in gasoline prices and long lines at gas stations.

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COVID-19 Update: Booster Shots Recommended


  • The U.S. FDA gave full approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccine, named Comirnaty. The decision set off a wave of vaccine mandates by various organizations, corporations, and institutions, including LSU, Ohio State, New York City school system, the Pentagon, and CVS, among others. Delta Airlines has announced they will charge unvaccinated employees an extra $200 per month for health insurance. 
  • The FDA has authorized vaccine booster shots for immunocompromised or other at-risk individuals. 
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Global Guardian Evacuates Duty of Care Clients from Afghanistan Amid Government Collapse

In Afghanistan, the value of Global Guardian’s in-country security network quickly became evident as Duty of Care clients were evacuated to safety.


Over the weekend, the Afghan government collapsed, and the capital Kabul fell to the Taliban. The Taliban is now in full control of Kabul, 32 out of 34 of Afghanistan’s provincial capitals, and all border crossings. This comes after a week in which the Taliban made rapid advances across the nation, seizing Afghanistan’s second and third-largest cities with little resistance. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has now fled to the UAE and most Western embassies have shuttered their embassies and evacuated foreign staff. The Taliban has erected security checkpoints across Kabul and are limiting access to the airport. According to U.S. estimates, there are still over 11,000 third-country nationals present in Afghanistan awaiting evacuation. So far, there have been no hostilities between the Taliban and the U.S. forces who are securing the Kabul airport.  

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