Worldview Security Update – April 22, 2020
22-Apr-20

AMERICAS

Americas: On 21 April 2020, the Chilean Ministry of Health adjusted city-level quarantine measures imposed to contain COVID-19. According to the new order, three municipalities within the Santiago metropolitan region — Quinta Normal, Pedro Aguirre Cerda and the southern region of Independencia — will enter quarantine at 2200 local time on 23 April (0200 UTC on 24 April) until further notice. The ministry also announced that quarantine measures in Chillán and Chillán Viejo are set to expire on 23 April.

Meanwhile, in Mexico, authorities extended restrictions on nonessential activities through 30 May, and announced that the country entered “Phase 3” of the COVID-19 pandemic, which signifies that the spread of the virus and the number of subsequent hospitalizations have drastically increased nationwide. Additionally, officials extended recommended social distancing to 2.25 m (7 ft) from 1.5 m, and are considering imposing additional public health measures, but did not offer further details. In related developments, as of 22 April a number of health care facilities are reportedly operating at full capacity in the capital Mexico City, which has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in Mexico. In Iztalpalapa, the borough with the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the city, the public General Hospital Iztalpalapa and Dr. Belisario Domínguez Hospital are at maximum capacity, and will not admit additional patients. General Hospital Tláhuac in the neighboring Tláhuac borough also refused to accept new COVID-19 patients due to capacity restraints. At least eight other hospitals are operating at 80% capacity. Officials expect the peak of COVID-19 cases in Mexico to occur between 2-8 May.

ASIA

Asia: On 21 April 2020, Chinese authorities banned non-locals and non-local vehicles from entering Harbin, the provincial capital of Heilongjiang province, to limit the spread of COVID-19. At least 54 new cases of COVID-19 were reported in the city on 19 April. Additionally, some central areas in the city are under an extensive lockdown, although specific details remain unknown. Meanwhile, on 22 April the governor of Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital, extended restrictions on public gatherings and nonessential business operations through 22 May.

In Vietnam, authorities in the capital Hanoi plan to adjust the city’s risk category for COVID-19 to medium from high on 23 April. The new rating will grant residents additional freedom of movement, and local officials now have the power to decide what businesses may reopen. At present, large public gatherings and nonessential businesses in the country remain closed.

EUROPE

Europe: As of 22 April 2020, confirmed cases of COVID-19 continue to increase across Europe. At present, there are five countries that have surpassed 100,000 confirmed cases: Spain (208,389), Italy (183,957), France (159,300), Germany (148,704) and the U.K. (130,184). Transportation services remain disrupted and restrictions continue to be extended across the continent as officials attempt to contain COVID-19.

On 21 April Greek authorities announced a nightly curfew from 2000 to 0800 local time (1700 to 0500 UTC) for the next 14 days in the town of Kranidi — located approximately 165 km (100 mi) southwest of Athens. The decision comes as 150 individuals in a temporary housing facility in Kranidi tested positive for COVID-19. The housing facility itself has also been quarantined. Additionally, residents of the town will only be allowed to leave their homes to procure essential goods and services.

Meanwhile, German officials in the states of Baden-Württemberg, Berlin, Hamburg, Hesse, Schleswig-Holstein and Thuringia ordered residents to wear face masks while inside business establishments and on public transportation. The measure is already in place in the states of Bavaria, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Saxony. Enforcement dates for the mask requirement will vary by state, but all will go into effect no later than 1 May.

In Georgia, authorities extended the ongoing nationwide state of emergency through 22 May. The measure institutes a nightly curfew from 2100-0600 local time (1700-0200 UTC), suspends public transportation and closes non-essential businesses. Additionally, the government extended a ban on all private vehicles until 27 April.

Lastly, officials in Montenegro announced that the nationwide curfew will be shortened during weekdays. The new curfew will last from 2300-0500 local time (2100-0300 UTC). The curfew is expected to remain in place until at least 2 May.

France (Security threat level – 3): On 21 April 2020, police officers clashed with protesters throughout the department of Hauts-de-Seine outside of Paris for a fourth consecutive night. Protesters set fire to garbage bins and shot fireworks at police officers in the neighborhoods of Aulnay-sous-Bois, Clichy-la-Garenne, Montreuil, Nanterre and Villeneuve-la-Garenne. Additionally, protesters set fire to a school in the Gennevilliers neighborhood. Police officers fired tear gas to disperse the protests throughout the night and arrested at least nine people. Demonstrations have been ongoing since 20 April, when a resident crashed a motorcycle into the door of an unmarked police car. Protesters allege that police officers deliberately caused the crash and have used extreme tactics to enforce lockdown measures intended to combat the spread of COVID-19.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Mozambique (Security threat level – 3): On 21 April 2020, Mozambican authorities publicly announced that suspected Islamist militants attacked Xitaxi village, located in the Muidumbe district of Cabo Delgado province, on 7 April. The attack left at least 52 people dead; officials stated that the majority of the victims were executed after refusing to be recruited by the extremist group. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, which was among the deadliest to occur since the terrorist  group emerged in Cabo Delgado in late 2017.

Analyst Comment: In recent months, the Islamic State (IS) and its regional affiliate Islamic State Central Africa Province (ISCAP) have claimed responsibility for several high-profile attacks in Cabo Delgado. Most notably, ISCAP claimed its fighters were responsible for a 23 March attack on the town of Mocimboa da Praia — located near several liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects operated by foreign-based companies on the Afungi peninsula — during which militants temporarily gained control of a Mozambican military base and occupied all points of entry to the city. Prior to this shift, militants operating in Cabo Delgado primarily targeted rural areas of the province in smaller-scale attacks, which typically went unclaimed. The attack on 7 April indicates a potential escalation of the group’s prominence in the region. 

Sub-Saharan Africa: As of 22 April 2020, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Africa has increased to more than 24,700 as governments continue to implement public health measures and restrictions in an effort to prevent further spread of the virus. The most recent notable developments in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Kenya, Lesotho, Nigeria and South Africa are outlined below.

In the DRC, officials began to ease the lockdown restrictions in place in Kinshasa’s Gombe district — the city’s commercial center, where many expatriates reside and foreign diplomatic missions are located — on 22 April. Essential commercial establishments have been allowed to reopen, and Gombe residents may move freely throughout the district, so long as fabric masks are worn in public. Gombe residents are not permitted to leave the district, while authorized individuals may enter Gombe after passing through security checkpoints with temperature checks.

In Kenya, the Mandera county government banned entrance to or exit from the county by air or road until at least 13 May. The measure will go into effect at 1900 local time (1600 UTC) on 22 April.

In Lesotho, on 21 April Prime Minister Thomas Thabane extended the existing nationwide lockdown until 5 May. Under the terms of the lockdown, residents are required to limit movements to essential activities only.

In Nigeria, the governor of the northeastern Borno state announced a two-week statewide lockdown beginning at 2230 local time (2130 UTC) on 22 April. All residents are advised to remain at home and restrict outside travel to procure essential goods and services. Security personnel will deploy across the state — a stronghold of the Islamist militant group Boko Haram — in an effort to ensure compliance.

In South Africa, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced plans to deploy more than 73,000 South African National Defense members to enforce the nationwide lockdown. The extra troops are expected to be deployed until at least 26 June. The parliamentary defense committee is expected to meet on 22 April to discuss the president’s order and plan how to execute it.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Iraq (Security threat level – 5): On 22 April 2020, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued an update to its travel advice for Iraq, which reads in part as follows:

"A charter flight is due to depart Basra for London Stansted on 22 April. You can book tickets at intelyse.com/repatriation-flights. Please direct any queries to [email protected] with INT-BSR-UK-22APR in the subject field. Please copy your email to [email protected]."

Lesser Antilles (Security threat level – 1): On 22 April 2020, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for St. Kitts and Nevis, which reads in part as follows:

“A 24-hour full curfew is in effect from 6:00 a.m. Saturday, April 18, 2020, to 6:00 a.m. Saturday, April 25, 2020. A partial curfew has been restored to allow individuals to purchase the necessary supplies to remain in their homes during full 24-hour curfew. Partial curfew will be in effect:

  • Tuesday, April 21 from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
  • Thursday, April 23, from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
  • Friday, April 24, from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

“During the extended State of Emergency and the COVID-19 Regulations made under the Emergency Powers Act, no one is permitted to be away from their residence without special exemption as an essential worker or a pass or permission from the Commissioner of Police during full 24-hour curfew.”