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March 18, 2021
18-March-2021

AMERICAS

Costa Rica (Security threat level – 3) : During the early morning hours of 16 March 2021, gunmen robbed a U.S.-based airline crew as they transited on the Autopista General Caña, located near the Alfredo González Flores bridge. The crew was traveling from its hotel in the city of Alajuela to Juan Santamaría International Airport (MROC/SJO), located in the capital San José, when the attack occurred. The crew — which left the hotel at 0340 local time (0940 UTC) to man American Airlines flight 1204 bound for the U.S. city of Miami — was robbed after the driver pulled over upon hitting a plastic box placed on the road by the attackers. Thieves, brandishing guns and knives, then breached the van and demanded passengers surrender their electronics and cellular phones. The assailants then fled the scene, and the driver returned the passengers to their hotel. The incident delayed the scheduled flight’s takeoff by 7.5 hours.

Paraguay (Security threat level – 3): On 17 March 2021, security personnel used tear gas and water cannons to disperse anti-government demonstrations in central Asunción, the capital. Police officers fired tear gas and deployed water cannons in front of the National Congress building, when the protesters started to throw projectiles at the officers as well as set fires and vandalized nearby buildings. A group of protesters set fire to the headquarters of the ruling National Republican Association (ANR) party, damaging the building. Individuals also vandalized and looted businesses in the city center area during the protests. One police officer suffered minor injuries in the violence, and authorities arrested at least 30 people. The demonstrations occurred after Congress voted against the impeachment of President Mario Abdo Benítez and Vice President Hugo Velázquez over perceived mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Peru / Lesser Antilles (Security threat levels – 3 / 1): On 17 March 2021, the Peruvian minister of education announced the suspension of interprovincial travel during the upcoming Easter holiday, 1-4 April, to slow the spread of COVID-19. All interprovincial transportation services and domestic flights will be suspended and only authorized public transportation and taxis will be allowed to operate. Individuals will be permitted to undertake interprovincial travel on 4 April to return home following the holiday. Grocery stores, supermarkets and pharmacies will be allowed to operate in-person services from 0400 to 1800 local time (0900 to 2300 UTC) during the lockdown.

On 17 March authorities in the Turks and Caicos Islands extended restrictions imposed to curb the spread of COVID-19 until 2 April. A nightly curfew from 2300 to 0500 local time (0400-1600 UTC) is in effect across all islands. During the curfew period, individuals are required to remain at their place of residence, except for individuals engaged in essential travel to attain medical care, essential workers traveling to and from work, and individuals traveling to and from the airport for international flights. Additionally, all public and private gatherings are banned, while businesses are limited to 30% capacity.

United States (Security threat level – 2): On 17 March 2021, a severe weather system swept through southern United States, affecting more than 40 million residents in the region, including in the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas. At least nine tornadoes were reported during the severe weather, of which six touched down in Alabama, one in Louisiana and the other two in Mississippi. The tornadoes damaged or destroyed dozens of homes in the region; at least two people were injured at a residence in Alabama’s Clarke County when a tornado struck the area. There were no reports of other injuries or deaths. As of last report, weather-related power outages were affecting more than 10,000 homes and businesses in Alabama. Meteorologists forecast that the severe weather system will move toward eastern Georgia, South and North Carolina, and far-southeastern Virginia later on 18 March.

ASIA

Japan (Security threat level – 1): On 17 March 2021, Prime Minister Suga Yoshide announced that the government is not planning to extend the coronavirus-related state of emergency in Chiba, Kanagawa, Tokyo and Saitama prefectures. The emergency order, which is due to expire on 21 March, has been in effect since early January. Suga stated that overall COVID-19 infections have declined, despite increasing numbers in Tokyo. Under the order, bars and restaurants are required to close by 2000 local time (1100 UTC).

In related developments, authorities also announced that travelers from the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Pakistan and Poland are now subject to stricter entry requirements. Under the new measures, all arriving passengers from the aforementioned locations must present proof of a negative result from a COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours prior to departure. Upon entry, travelers will be tested again, sent to a designated quarantine facility and required to take another test on the third day. If results are negative, a traveler is allowed to leave and self-isolate at home for an additional 14 days.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Mali (Security threat level – 5): On 15 March 2021, approximately 100 suspected Islamist militants staged an ambush against an army patrol in the northern region of Gao. The assailants — traveling on motorcycles and pick-up trucks — stormed a military post near the town of Tassit, located about 60 km (35 mi) southeast of Ansongo, near Mali’s borders with Burkina Faso and Niger. According to an army spokesperson, at least 33 soldiers and 13 militants were killed in the resulting fighting between the two groups. U.N. Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) personnel helped to evacuate wounded soldiers, and the French military deployed in the region assisted Malian soldiers to secure the area following the attack. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, although militants affiliated with al-Qaeda and Islamic State are known to actively operate in the area.

Tanzania (Security threat level – 3): On the night of 17 March 2021, Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan announced that President John Magufuli died earlier in the day due to heart failure. Magufuli had not been seen in public since 27 February, prompting speculation that he was ill despite denials by government authorities. Under the constitution, Hassan will assume the role of president and serve the remainder of Magufuli’s term, which is slated to end in 2025. Hassan announced a 14-day period of mourning.

Analyst Comment: Spontaneous demonstrations remain possible, as Magufuli was a popular figure in Tanzania. Official state ceremonies are also likely. It remains unknown how Hassan will govern upon entering office, or whether she will continue Magufuli’s policies toward the COVID-19 pandemic. Magufuli was a skeptic of the coronavirus and opted to not impose lockdown measures. As recently as early-February, he declared that the country had beaten the disease. As a result, the full extent of the effects of the pandemic in Tanzania remain unknown.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Australia (Security threat level – 2): On 18 March 2021, the U.S. Consulate General in Perth issued a Demonstration Alert, which reads in part as follows: “Groups will undertake a series of protest actions based in Supreme Court Gardens on St Georges Terrace in the Perth CBD over the period of March 22-24, 2021. Police are expecting 500-1,000 people to be involved in the demonstrations. Other demonstration activities may occur in the CBD for the remainder of that week.”

Dominican Republic (Security threat level – 3): On 17 March 2021, the U.K. Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) issued updated travel advice for the Dominican Republic, which reads in part as follows: “Exceptional curfew measures have been put in place for Good Friday (2 April 2021). On this day, the curfew will be from 7pm to 5am. Transit is permitted for the first three hours of curfew, i.e. until 10pm.”

Oman (Security threat level – 2): On 18 March 2021, the U.K. Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) issued an update to its travel advice for Oman, which reads in part as follows: “On 17 March the Omani authorities announced that from 12 noon local time on 19 March, direct flights from the United Kingdom to Oman would be prohibited. Travellers who have been in or transited through the United Kingdom in the previous 14 days cannot enter Oman, with the exception of Omani citizens.”

Peru (Security threat level – 3): On 17 March 2021, the U.S. Embassy in Lima issued a Demonstration Alert, which reads in part as follows:

“Location: Barranca, Santa Rosa, Aucallama, Chancay, Yangas, Tumbes, Cajamarca, Chimbote, Huaraz, La Oroya, Pampas, La Merced, Ica, Cusco, Tacna, Abancay, Ucayali

“Event: There are ongoing, widespread protests by cargo transport workers in multiple regions of Peru affecting travel on the Pan American Sur (South) and Pan American Norte (North) highways and throughout Peru. Although the protest is directed at heavy cargo vehicles, all traffic may be slowed or stopped. The Peruvian National Police have deployed in response. Avoid travel in the affected areas if possible as the situation is ongoing and evolving.”