ASIA China (Security threat level – 3): On 23 November...
Chile (Security threat level – 2): Leftist candidate Gabriel Boric won the presidential runoff election that took place on 19 December 2021. According to the Electoral Service of Chile, Boric secured 55.87% of the vote to win the election, while his opponent — former congressman Jose Antonio Kast — received 44.13% of the vote, with 99.95% of the ballots tallied. Boric, a lawmaker and former protest leader, has pledged to combat economic inequality and end the country’s private pension system, among other goals. Boric is scheduled to be inaugurated in office on 11 March for a four-year term.
Malaysia (Security threat level – 3): During the weekend of 18-19 December 2021, severe flooding occurred throughout Peninsular Malaysia due to heavy rainfall. Approximately 30,000 people evacuated their homes in eight states, including 14,000 in Pahang and 10,000 in Selangor — which encircles the capital Kuala Lumpur. At least eight people have reportedly died in Selangor due to flood-related injuries. Transportation to and within the capital region remains partially disrupted as emergency personnel continue to clear debris. Meanwhile, authorities have opened at least 100 evacuation shelters throughout Selangor state.
Belgium (Security threat level – 3): On the afternoon of 19 December 2021, clashes broke out between police officers and protesters who had gathered near the Parc du Cinquantenaire in eastern Brussels, the capital, to denounce restrictions reinstated to combat the spread of COVID-19. Thousands of protesters participating in the march gathered in an area located east of the city center, where dozens of protesters threw stones and other projectiles at police officers and vandalized public property. Police officers fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse the protesters near the eastern end of the park. At least one person was injured, and about 55 people were arrested. Demonstrations against COVID-19 restrictions have occurred in Brussels and other Belgian cities during the past several weeks and have occasionally resulted in large-scale violence.
Germany / United Kingdom (Security threat levels – 3 / 3): As of 0000 local time on 20 December 2021 (2300 UTC on 19 December), the German government has added the U.K. and its overseas territories to an existing list of areas with coronavirus variants of concern in response to the rapid spread of the omicron variant of COVID-19 in the U.K. Most foreigners seeking entry into Germany from the U.K. are now banned from entering Germany until at least 3 January 2022, except for those transiting to a different country. German citizens, permanent residents and those exempt from the entry prohibition are required to show a negative PCR test taken within 48 hours before departure for Germany and observe quarantine for two weeks after arrival. No exemptions are in place for travelers fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or those who recently recovered from the disease. Additional information is available here.
Netherlands (Security threat level – 2): On 18 December 2021, Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced a nationwide lockdown as of 19 December due to concerns over the omicron variant of COVID-19. During the lockdown — currently slated to remain in effect until at least 14 January 2022 — all nonessential businesses will be closed while essential businesses, such as supermarkets, will be required to suspend operations at 2200 local time (2100 UTC) daily. Other essential shops, such as gas stations and pharmacies, are not subjected to reduced operating hours. Outdoor gatherings of more than two people from separate households are prohibited, whereas residents are prohibited from hosting more than two people per day in their homes. Four visitors per day at maximum are allowed in homes on the following dates: 24 December, 25 December, 26 December, 31 December and 1 January. The government has advised individuals to stay home as much as possible and to avoid crowded places. Additional details provided by the Dutch government are available here.
Israel (Security threat level – 4): On 20 December 2021, the Israeli Cabinet approved the addition of 10 more countries to Israel’s coronavirus-related “red list” for foreign travel due to concerns over the omicron variant of COVID-19. Subsequently, as of 0000 local time on 22 December (2200 UTC on 21 December), foreigners traveling from Belgium, Canada, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Morocco, Portugal, Switzerland, Turkey and the United States will no longer be permitted to enter the country. Travelers can apply for a special entry exemption from a government committee; exempted travelers coming from countries placed on the red list will be required to quarantine for a period of seven days upon arrival, regardless of vaccination status. Meanwhile, Israeli citizens and permanent residents will be prohibited from traveling to the aforementioned 10 countries unless they obtain permission to do so. Further information as outlined by the Israeli government is available here.
Democratic Republic Of The Congo (Security threat level – 4): On 20 December 2021, police officers deployed tear gas and used live ammunition to disperse demonstrators in Goma — the capital of North Kivu province – who were protesting the alleged deployment of Rwandan security personnel to the province. Demonstrators were also protesting an increase in crime in the region and demanding that the official state of siege — in effect since May 2021 in North Kivu and Ituri provinces — be reassessed. Protesters constructed barricades, blocked roads and engaged in clashes with police officers. Reports indicate that banks, the city’s central market, schools and shops in Goma were closed. At least two people were killed in the violence, including one police officer, and 10 others were injured. In a statement regarding the unrest in Goma, the commissioner general of the Congolese national police stated that no Rwandan security personnel are being deployed in Goma.
Analyst Comment: Rwandan and Congolese police officials signed a memorandum of understanding in Kigali, Rwanda’s capital, the prior week regarding increased cross-border cooperation in order to jointly combat various forms of illicit trafficking. Afterward, a rumor spread via social media platforms that Rwandan security personnel are being stationed in Goma, prompting the demonstration.
Sudan (Security threat level – 5): On 19 December 2021, thousands of protesters gathered near the presidential palace in central Khartoum to participate in ongoing protests regarding the military’s involvement in the country’s politics. Police officers sealed off bridges to the capital city and roads to the airport ahead of the demonstrations. As dozens of protesters attempted to enter the southern gate of the presidential palace, military personnel fired live ammunition into the air to disperse the crowd. Police officers also fired tear gas and stun grenades toward protesters in several areas of the capital. There were reports of several injuries among the protesters; however, there were no reports of deaths. Elsewhere in the country, demonstrations occurred in the cities of Omdurman, Bahri and Port Sudan as residents gathered to commemorate the date of the beginning of mass protests that led to the removal of former President Omar al-Bashir in a military coup.
Canada (Security threat level – 2): On 17 December 2021, the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa issued a Health Alert, which reads in part as follows: “Effective December 21, Canadian Federal Authorities will again require proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test for all travelers entering Canada, including those travelers returning from trips under 72 hours. In addition, the Government of Canada is ending its travel restrictions for travelers recently present in Botswana, Egypt, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.
“For additional information, please visit the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 travel site here. “