Army personnel prepare for a clean up operation against the Aedes aegypti mosquito in Sao Paulo, which is being served by Emirates. Andre Penner / AP Photo
Army personnel prepare for a clean up operation against the Aedes aegypti mosquito in Sao Paulo, which is being served by Emirates. Andre Penner / AP Photo

Emirates offers passengers refunds on tickets to destinations hit by Zika virus



Emirates airline is offering its passengers headed to the Americas a ticket refund if they want to avoid the destinations hit by the Zika virus.

The Dubai airline has put in place the provisions for customers advised to avoid the affected regions based on the guidelines of US-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC travel advisory is for 14 countries, including Panama, where Emirates will launch a flight on March 31, and Brazil.

Customers holding a ticket issued on or before January 29, 2016, for travel up to April 30, 2016, could rebook to an alternate destination in the Americas not affected by the virus, or refund their travel to destinations reported to be affected by the Zika virus, according to an Emirates spokeswoman.

“At this time, there is no impact on operations to our three gateways in South America - Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Buenos Aires,” she said.

Etihad Airways reported operating its normal schedule of flights to the Americas, where it flies direct to Sao Paulo, and Africa, but a spokeswoman said it will continue to monitor the situation.

The virus poses a threat, in particular, to pregnant women. Spread by mosquitos, past outbreaks caused by the virus have been reported in Africa, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands.

Airlines are expected to put in place precautions, and with any such outbreaks, demand is expected to be hit but as of to what degree is unclear, according to some aviation analysts.

“While I don’t think international travel will be hit as hard as say Ebola or SARS, the Zika virus is more worrying for pregnant women, and the demand impact may be limited as it’s not clear how it could affect others or adults,” said Saj Ahmad, the chief analyst at London-based StrategicAero Research.

CDC advises pregnant women to consider postponing travel to the areas where Zika virus has been reported.

While no cases of Zika have been reported in the UAE, the Ministry of Health's Ad-hoc Committee for Epidemics on Sunday agreed to raise awareness of the disease and fumigate mosquito-prone areas.

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if you go

The flights

Air Astana flies direct from Dubai to Almaty from Dh2,440 per person return, and to Astana (via Almaty) from Dh2,930 return, both including taxes.

The hotels

Rooms at the Ritz-Carlton Almaty cost from Dh1,944 per night including taxes; and in Astana the new Ritz-Carlton Astana (www.marriott) costs from Dh1,325; alternatively, the new St Regis Astana costs from Dh1,458 per night including taxes.

When to visit

March-May and September-November

Visas

Citizens of many countries, including the UAE do not need a visa to enter Kazakhstan for up to 30 days. Contact the nearest Kazakhstan embassy or consulate.

How being social media savvy can improve your well being

Next time when procastinating online remember that you can save thousands on paying for a personal trainer and a gym membership simply by watching YouTube videos and keeping up with the latest health tips and trends.

As social media apps are becoming more and more consumed by health experts and nutritionists who are using it to awareness and encourage patients to engage in physical activity.

Elizabeth Watson, a personal trainer from Stay Fit gym in Abu Dhabi suggests that “individuals can use social media as a means of keeping fit, there are a lot of great exercises you can do and train from experts at home just by watching videos on YouTube”.

Norlyn Torrena, a clinical nutritionist from Burjeel Hospital advises her clients to be more technologically active “most of my clients are so engaged with their phones that I advise them to download applications that offer health related services”.

Torrena said that “most people believe that dieting and keeping fit is boring”.

However, by using social media apps keeping fit means that people are “modern and are kept up to date with the latest heath tips and trends”.

“It can be a guide to a healthy lifestyle and exercise if used in the correct way, so I really encourage my clients to download health applications” said Mrs Torrena.

People can also connect with each other and exchange “tips and notes, it’s extremely healthy and fun”.

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BOSH!'s pantry essentials

Nutritional yeast

This is Firth's pick and an ingredient he says, "gives you an instant cheesy flavour". He advises making your own cream cheese with it or simply using it to whip up a mac and cheese or wholesome lasagne. It's available in organic and specialist grocery stores across the UAE.

Seeds

"We've got a big jar of mixed seeds in our kitchen," Theasby explains. "That's what you use to make a bolognese or pie or salad: just grab a handful of seeds and sprinkle them over the top. It's a really good way to make sure you're getting your omegas."

Umami flavours

"I could say soya sauce, but I'll say all umami-makers and have them in the same batch," says Firth. He suggests having items such as Marmite, balsamic vinegar and other general, dark, umami-tasting products in your cupboard "to make your bolognese a little bit more 'umptious'".

Onions and garlic

"If you've got them, you can cook basically anything from that base," says Theasby. "These ingredients are so prevalent in every world cuisine and if you've got them in your cupboard, then you know you've got the foundation of a really nice meal."

Your grain of choice

Whether rice, quinoa, pasta or buckwheat, Firth advises always having a stock of your favourite grains in the cupboard. "That you, you have an instant meal and all you have to do is just chuck a bit of veg in."

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Quarter-final: Beat Marketa Vondrousova 6-0, 6-2
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