Thursday, 7 July 2016

Travel safety checklist for Rio Games

AS MORE than 600,000 people prepare to travel to the #Rio #Olympics in August, International SOS is offering health and safety advice. 

The international assistance company believes it is safe for travellers to visit virtually anywhere in Brazil, as long as they take the right precautions to mitigate risks, particularly in preventing opportunistic crime and road traffic accidents.

Zika virus: Women are advised not to get pregnant until at least eight weeks after returning from Brazil. Male travellers should not have unprotected sex during the trip and for eight weeks on their return, if they do not have any symptoms. If men do have zika symptoms, they should not have unprotected sex for six months.

Transport: Taking public transport (underground and buses) is encouraged in Rio. There will also be special transport arrangements in place for the Games. Taxis are safe, but should not be hailed on the streets. Self-driving is not recommended and walking alone after dark also requires planning to avoid high risk areas. It is safe to use taxi apps and Uber cars in low and medium risk countries and Brazil is deemed a medium risk country. Uber should be avoided only in locations close to taxi stands, such as the airports for example, as there could be some conflict between taxi drivers and Uber drivers. Another good option is to ask your hotel to provide a taxi.

It is common to pay taxi drivers in cash; many of the drivers take credit cards, but not all of them. Tipping taxi drivers is not a common practice for Brazilians, but it is gladly accepted.

Money exchange: Travellers should exchange money only in authorized booths or at banks to avoid receiving counterfeit change.

Speaking English: English is not widely spoken in Brazil, but there will be bilingual volunteers working during the Games, and even Brazilians who do not speak English will always try to help overseas visitors.

Avoiding unwanted attention: When it comes to petty crime, the best way to avoid being a victim is to keep a low profile and avoid displays of wealth such as jewellery, smartphones and iPads. Carry only what you need. Avoid high risk districts and be suspicious of your surroundings. Turn on your personal security radar!

Top scams to watch out for: Be aware of bag and jewellery snatching, spiking of, and cloning of payment cards. Favelas should be avoided but opportunistic crime is present everywhere.

Terrorism: There will be more than 80,000 police and army officers on the ground at the Games. Military police will join forces from different states and create a national force stationed in Rio. There is no credible information suggesting that Brazil could be subject to a terrorist attack. Brazil’s counter-terrorism agency is in constant contact with other countries.

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