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Worldview Security Update – April 1, 2020
1-Apr-20

AMERICAS

Americas: As of 1 April 2020, a number of governments across the Americas continue to impose restrictions intended to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), including extending states of emergency. Most countries in the region remain under lockdown or quarantine measures. At present, the countries with the most confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the region are Brazil (5,812), Chile (2,738) and Ecuador (2,302). Significant developments for Antigua and Barbuda, Colombia, Cuba, Jamaica, Mexico and St. Lucia are outlined below.

On 31 March the government of Antigua and Barbuda extended the state of emergency through 23 May. The measure was set to expire on 3 April. As part of the state of emergency, officials will impose a complete lockdown from 2-9 April, with exceptions for essential services such as grocery stores, pharmacies, banks and medical facilities. Gatherings of more than 10 people are also banned. Additionally, a nightly curfew between 2000-0600 local time (0000-1000 UTC) will be in effect from 9-11 April.

In Colombia, the National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrilla group initiated on 1 April a unilateral ceasefire with the government, proposing that the two sides maintain the ceasefire until 30 April due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak; however, the government has not agreed to the ceasefire. According to the ELN, its fighters will continue to defend themselves if attacked by security forces. The group stated that it is willing to meet with government representatives to discuss an extension of the ceasefire and resume suspended peace negotiations.

On 31 March the Cuban government suspended all inbound international flights and ordered the departure of all foreign vessels from the country and its territorial waters to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Cuban nationals and permanent residents will be allowed to return; however, officials warned of reduced available flights. In addition, residents returning to Cuba will be required to spend two weeks in quarantine at state isolation centers. At present, travel between provinces has been suspended while additional police officers have deployed to major urban areas to enforce social distancing orders. There have been 186 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country, including six fatalities.

In Jamaica, a nationwide nightly curfew from 2000-0600 local time (0100-1100 UTC) will go into effect from 1 April until 8 April. Officials have advised residents to remain indoors other than to procure essential goods or medical services. Thus far, there have been 38 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country, including two fatalities.

In Mexico, officials in Mexico City declared a citywide health epidemic due to COVID-19 on 31 March. In addition to the social distancing policies already in place, new measures include the suspension of all public, private and nonessential businesses until 30 April. Essential businesses – such as pharmacies and grocery stores – are exempt. In addition, vehicles will drive throughout the city with loudspeakers playing messages to encourage residents to stay in their homes. Currently, Mexico has 1,215 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 29 fatalities.

In St. Lucia, a 24-hour curfew went into effect at 0500 local time (0900 UTC) on 1 April, and will remain in effect until 0500 local time on 7 April. The order prohibits residents from leaving their homes with exceptions for obtaining medical assistance. Grocery stores and pharmacies will be closed during the curfew. Those in need of food or medical supplies should contact the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO), using the 311 COVID-19 hotline number. Presently, St. Lucia has 13 confirmed COVID-19 cases.

United States (Security threat level – 2): As of 1 April 2020, the U.S. has recorded nearly 190,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), with more than 4,000 fatalities; at least 1,000 of those fatalities were recorded the previous day. Authorities continue to enact and extend restrictive measures in an attempt to curb the rapid spread of COVID-19. On 31 March Gov. Janet Mills of the northeastern state of Maine issued a statewide stay-at-home order, which is scheduled to be in effect from 0001 local time (0401 UTC) on 2 April through 30 April. Meanwhile, in Texas, Gov. Gregg Abbott issued an executive order — effective 0001 local time on 2 April through 30 April — requiring residents who are not critical to their workplaces to stay at their homes, as confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state continue to increase notably, with nearly 4,000 individuals sickened with the virus and at least 58 fatalities reported. Abbott also urged residents to remain in their homes to the degree possible and practice social distancing measures when outdoors. Schools in the state are closed through 4 May. Additionally, "safer at home" guidelines have been issued in the state of Tennessee, urging residents to remain in their homes, except for essential purposes such as obtaining food, basic supplies and health care services. The guidelines will be in effect from 2359 local time on 31 March to 2359 local time on 14 April.

ASIA

Asia: As of 1 April 2020, most countries throughout the Asia Pacific region have imposed travel and movement restrictions. As the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic spreads, authorities continue to enact measures to close down nonessential businesses and to enforce social distancing. Both Hong Kong and Bangkok ordered business closures and Japan extended its entry ban to 49 additional countries.

In Hong Kong, at 1800 local time (1000 UTC) on 1 April, a 14-day closure order went into effect for karaoke lounges, nightclubs and game parlors in order to limit the spread of COVID-19. However, beauty salons and massage parlors are allowed to remain open, but staff and customers are required to wear face masks and customers must have their temperature checked. The government previously ordered movie theaters, gyms, arcades and ice rinks to shut down for two weeks on 28 March.

In Thailand, Bangkok officials ordered all commercial businesses to suspend nighttime operations from 0000-0500 local time beginning on 2 April (1700-2200 UTC on 1 April) until further notice. Additionally, all parks in Bangkok will be closed from 2-30 April. While the measure applies to businesses, authorities maintain that it is not a curfew, and does not apply to individuals, adding that only the national government has the authority to order a curfew on individual movement.

On 1 April Japanese authorities announced an entry ban on travelers from 49 countries, including the U.S., South Korea, China, Europe, Taiwan, Australia, Brazil, and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Under the order, travelers who have been in the banned countries within 14 days prior to their arrival in Japan will be denied entry.

EUROPE

Europe: As of 1 April 2020, confirmed cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continue to increase significantly across Europe. At present, there are four countries that have surpassed 50,000 confirmed cases: Italy (105,792), Spain (102,136), Germany (72,383) and France (52,837). Transportation services continue to experience significant disruptions and lockdowns continue across the continent as officials attempt to contain COVID-19.

On 31 March Bulgarian officials in the central province of Stara Zagora implemented a nightly curfew to contain the spread of COVID-19. The curfew requires residents to remain at home from 2100-0500 local time (1800-0200 UTC) every night until further notice. Officials previously implemented a nationwide ban on nonessential travel between cities throughout the country and required the use of masks in all public spaces.

Meanwhile, Polish officials increased nationwide restrictions on 31 March in an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19. The restrictions include the closure of all nonessential businesses, the creation of special shop hours from 1000-1200 local time (0800-1000 UTC) for elderly residents, and an edict that minors will not be allowed to be outdoors unaccompanied by adults. Officials did not state how long the restrictions will be in effect.

Additionally, Italian and Armenian officials announced that nationwide emergency restrictions will be extended. In Italy, officials stated that lockdown measures will be extended to 13 April. In Armenia, nationwide restrictions on travel across the country and a ban on nonessential business operations were extended through at least 10 April. Officials warned that restrictions are likely to be tightened further as cases of COVID-19 continue to rise throughout Armenia.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Middle East and North Africa: As of 1 April 2020, the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is continuing to spread across the Middle East and North Africa region. Multiple countries — including Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Israel, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, the Palestinian Territories, Morocco, Oman and Qatar — reported new cases of the disease. Meanwhile, local authorities in Egypt, Oman and Iraq announced new isolation measures.

In Egypt, on 1 April the governor of Port Said placed seven apartment buildings in separate areas of the governorate under lockdown after seven residents tested positive for COVID-19. While there are no exceptions to the lockdown, each apartment building has designated one person to facilitate the delivery of essential goods.

In Oman, on 1 April authorities in the city of Muscat declared a lockdown in the neighborhood of Mutrah to slow the spread of COVID-19. The lockdown will remain in place until further notice; and while there are no exceptions, security forces are working to facilitate the transportation of essential goods into the neighborhood.

In Iraq, on 31 March the governor of Basra imposed a lockdown for the province in an effort to control the spread of COVID-19. The lockdown prohibits movement between cities, towns and villages in the province and also imposes a 24-hour daily curfew, with exceptions for humanitarian purposes and purchasing essential goods. The lockdown and curfew will remain in place until at least 19 April.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Sub-Saharan Africa: As of 1 April 2020, a number of Sub-Saharan African countries have implemented varying degrees of restrictions aimed at preventing further spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). At present, health officials have confirmed more than 3,725 cases of the virus across the continent, including at least 1,353 cases recorded in South Africa. As restrictions remain in place, police officers and military personnel continue to use force to ensure compliance. For example, in the early morning hours of 31 March police officers in the Kenyan capital Nairobi used live fire and batons to enforce the nationwide curfew imposed on 27 March. Police officers used batons against individuals on the streets who were violating the curfew, and shot and killed an individual standing on a balcony outside his home. Similar crackdowns have occurred elsewhere in Kenya, including in Mombasa, as well as in South Africa and Uganda, amid restrictions against COVID-19.

In Cabo Verde, a nationwide state of emergency remains in effect as of 1 April. Under the terms of the declaration – in effect through 17 April — residents are only permitted to leave their homes for procuring food or health care, and all nonessential employees are advised to work from home if possible. The government previously closed all air and sea borders, including for its own citizens, on 19 March.

Meanwhile, on 31 March Ethiopia’s national election board announced a postponement of the country’s upcoming general election, which was previously scheduled for 29 August. Without confirming a new date, officials attributed the postponement to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Parliament is expected to vote in the coming days on whether to extend the current mandate of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government — which is set to expire in October — to accommodate the election postponement. Ethiopia’s election is the first in the Sub-Saharan Africa region to be postponed due to COVID-19.

On 31 March health officials in Burundi confirmed the country’s first two cases of COVID-19. The two individuals have been isolated at a hotel in the capital Bujumbura. According to officials, the two patients are Burundian nationals who arrived from the United Arab Emirates via Rwanda. All international flights to and from the country are currently suspended through at least 11 April.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Algeria (Security threat level – 4): On 1 April 2020, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued an update to its travel advice for Algeria to include the following: "The UK will operate a special flight from Algiers on 2 April for British nationals and their direct dependents to return to the UK.

"The cost of the flight is £186 per person.

"To be eligible to take this flight, you must be normally resident in the UK. Eligibility will be checked before tickets are issued.

"If you wish to travel, book tickets on the CTM website as soon as possible.

"Tickets will not be on sale at the airport. Do not travel to the airport without a confirmed ticket.

"To make a booking, you will need:

"Full passport and contact details for each traveller you are registering.

"Your UK home address and postcode.

"Your means of payment, such as credit or debit card details.

"If you cannot pay the cost of the ticket, call CTM to discuss your options. If you have exhausted all other options available to you for getting funds, you may be eligible to apply for an emergency loan to cover the cost of the ticket. You would need to repay the loan when you are back in the UK."

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