ASIA China (Security threat level – 3): On 23 November...
China (Security threat level – 3) : On 21 March 2022, authorities in Hong Kong announced plans to lift coronavirus-related bans on passenger flights coming from nine countries beginning on 1 April. The nine countries are Australia, Canada, France, India, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, the U.K. and the U.S. Additionally, countries will no longer be divided into separate categories with specific entry restrictions. Instead, all passengers entering Hong Kong must provide proof of full vaccination against the virus in order to board incoming flights. Travelers will be required to undergo a 14-day quarantine at a designated hotel and complete rapid antigen tests daily. Those who yield negative results on a PCR test taken on the fifth day, and on antigen tests taken on the sixth and seventh days, will be allowed to end the quarantine.
China (Security threat level – 3): At approximately 1430 local time (0630 UTC) on 21 March 2022, China Eastern Airlines flight MU5735 crashed near Molang Village in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region — located approximately 20 km (12 mi) southwest of Wuzhou. According to the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), the Boeing 737-800 aircraft, with registration number B-1791, was carrying 123 passengers and nine crew members. There has been no confirmation regarding the number of casualties. The aircraft departed from the southwestern city of Kunming in Yunnan province at 1315 local time and was scheduled to land in Guangzhou in Guangdong province, before it disappeared from CAAC radar at approximately 1430 local time. A large number of emergency personnel are currently at the scene of the crash searching for survivors.
Analyst Comment: President Xi Jinping has ordered an immediate investigation into the cause of the crash. Meanwhile, China Eastern Airlines has temporarily suspended operations of its Boeing 737-800 fleet following the crash, so flight disruptions are likely in the near term.
China (Security threat level – 3): On 20 March 2022, authorities increased coronavirus-related restrictions in the northern cities of Jilin and Changchun, both located in Jilin province near China’s northeastern borders with Russia and North Korea. Beginning on 21 March and continuing until at least 24 March, residents in Changchun and Jilin are required to stay at home during a three-day lockdown period. Only medical and emergency personnel will be allowed to leave their homes. Jilin province was originally placed on lockdown on 13 March.
Indonesia (Security threat level – 4): On 21 March 2022, Indonesian tourism authorities announced the end of quarantine requirements for all inbound travelers who are fully vaccinated against COIVD-19, effective immediately. All travelers arriving in Indonesia will be eligible for a quarantine waiver if they can provide proof of vaccination and present a negative result from a COVID-19 test taken prior to their arrival. The announcement follows consecutive weeks of declining COVID-19 infections in the country and the successful completion of a two-week pilot program on the islands of Bali, Batam, and Bintan.
Myanmar (Security threat level – 4): On 19 March 2022, authorities announced the reopening of Myanmar’s borders to international travelers beginning on 17 April amid a reported decrease in locally transmitted COVID-19 cases. Arriving passengers must be fully vaccinated and will be required to quarantine for seven days. Visitors will also be required to undergo two PCR tests; one on arrival and an additional test to exit quarantine.
Pakistan (Security threat level – 5): On 20 March 2022, the speaker of Pakistan’s lower house of parliament announced that members of parliament will convene on 25 March for a no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan. An alliance of opposition parties submitted a no-confidence motion to parliament accusing Khan of mismanaging the country’s economy and losing his parliamentary majority. No Pakistani prime minister has ever completed a full term in office.
Thailand (Security threat level – 3): On 18 March 2022, the Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) announced a plan to rescind coronavirus-related restrictions for international travelers in a bid to boost tourism for the upcoming Songkran celebration. Beginning on 1 April, fully vaccinated international travelers will no longer be required to provide proof of a negative pre-arrival COVID-19 PCR test; however, travelers will remain subject to on-arrival tests and must obtain international travel insurance. Additionally, quarantine requirements for unvaccinated travelers will be reduced to five days from the currently required seven days. Fully vaccinated travelers remain exempt from quarantine.
Belgium (Security threat level – 3): At approximately 0500 local time (0400 UTC) on 20 March 2022, a motorist drove into a crowd of revelers at the Carnival of Binche in the Strépy-Bracquegnies village, located approximately 50 km (30 mi) south of Brussels. Authorities intercepted the vehicle after the driver reportedly attempted to flee the scene and took two suspects into custody. The crash killed six individuals and left 10 others with severe injuries. Authorities have ruled out terrorism as the motive for the attack.
Saudi Arabia (Security threat level – 3): On 21 March 2022, Yemen-based Houthi rebels fired a missile targeting an Aramco distribution center in the port city of Jeddah. The missile struck a tank at the distribution center, causing a fire. No casualties were reported. Earlier in the day, the Saudi military intercepted a series of missiles and drones that were launched toward a power station in Dhahran Al-Janub, an Aramco Facility in Jizan, a gas station in Khamis Mushait and an Aramco Liquefied Natural Gas facility in Yanbu. The renewed barrage of attacks comes as Saudi-sponsored peace talks — which the Houthis have refused to attend — are scheduled to take place in Riyadh beginning on 29 March.
In related developments, the U.S. government has transferred a large number of antimissile interceptors to strengthen Saudi missile defense systems during the previous few weeks. Frequent Houthi missile and drone attacks have depleted Saudi missile defense capabilities.
Tunisia (Security threat level – 3): At approximately 0930 local time (0830 UTC) on 21 March 2022, two passenger trains collided in the southern Jbel Jelloud area of the capital Tunis. One of the trains was unoccupied, while the other was carrying travelers. At least 95 people were injured but no deaths were reported. The cause of the accident is unknown.
Botswana (Security threat level – 2): On 20 March 2022, authorities announced that unvaccinated travelers will now be granted entry into Botswana, annulling the country’s previous border policy of denying entry to unvaccinated or partially vaccinated travelers. All unvaccinated travelers will be required to present a negative COVID-19 test upon arrival as well as complete additional health screening procedures. Health authorities have also specified their definition of fully vaccinated travelers as individuals who previously received an approved COVID-19 vaccination series with or without a booster serum.
Mexico (Security threat level – 4): On 18 March 2022, the U.S. Consulate General in Nuevo Laredo issued a Security Alert, which reads in part as follows: “The Consulate continues to closely monitor the security situation in the city of Nuevo Laredo. The March 17 instructions to U.S. government personnel to shelter in place are no longer in effect. U.S. government personnel are subject to an overnight curfew and other movement restrictions in Nuevo Laredo.”