The column that gives the global picture

Warning of the week: dengue fever spreads

No cure exists for this unpleasant mosquito-transmitted flu-like virus. The travel health organisation MASTA (09068 224100, reports the rate of increase in Thailand is running at 25 per cent annually. In Perak state, in neighbouring Malaysia, the number of cases in 2001 nearly trebled. Macau has 1,000 cases at present. Across in Brazil, Rio de Janeiro reports 25,000 cases.

The virus is spread mainly by day-time biting mosquitoes. "Protect against bites with safe insect repellents on exposed skin," says MASTA. A handy additional step is to impregnate cotton clothing with DEET.

Bargain of the week: sleep your way between London and Scotland for £19

The best rail deal in Britain is tough to track down – it has not been publicised and must be booked online. But it represents amazing value. At you can click on Bargain Berths to buy one-way trips for travel between five and 35 days ahead. Yesterday, a test booking found overnight trips linking Inverness, Glasgow and Edinburgh with London for £19. Aberdeen and Fort William cost £29. The normal one-way Inverness-London fare, without a sleeper, is £99.