Worldview Security Update – April 3, 2020
3-Apr-20

AMERICAS

Americas: As of 3 April 2020, a number of governments across the Americas continue to impose restrictions, including extending states of emergency, in order to limit the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Most countries in the region remain under lockdown or quarantine. Currently, the countries with the most confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the region are Brazil (8,076), Chile (3,737) and Ecuador (3,163). Significant developments in Barbados, Chile, Cuba, Ecuador, Guyana and Mexico are outlined below.

In Barbados, a 24-hour curfew went into effect on 3 April, and will remain until 15 April. All supermarkets and minimarts are closed until further notice, while all restaurants are closed until 15 April. All public beaches and parks are closed, the sale of alcohol is banned and movement is restricted to essential trips to bakeries, bread depots, gas stations, pharmacies, banks or medical facilities. Additionally, all travelers arriving in Barbados will be immediately quarantined for 14 days in a government facility.

In Chile, the Ministry of Health expanded quarantine measures to six additional cities on 2 April, including Punta Arenas, as well as Easter Island — bringing a total of 14 cities and communities under quarantine. The city of Punta Arenas, in southern Chile, began a seven-day quarantine at 2200 local time on 2 April (0100 UTC on 3 April). As for the Santiago metropolitan region, the quarantine — initially imposed on 26 March — has been extended through 9 April. Additionally, the quarantine for Easter Island has been renewed for two additional weeks. Quarantine measures in the city of Independence expired at 2200 local time on 2 April. The following cities and communities are currently under quarantine: Barnechea, Chillán, Chillán, Viejo, The Counts, Father Las Casas, Ñuñoa, Osorno, Providence, Punta, Arenas, Rapa Nui (Easter Island), Santiago, Temuco, Vitacura and Williams Harbor. Residents under city-level quarantine are required to remain indoors and obtain a government permit — a maximum of two per week are allotted per household — to travel in order to procure essential items, such as food, medicine and health care. As of 3 April, Chile has 3,737 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

In Cuba, a complete quarantine for the El Carmelo del Vedado neighborhood in Havana will go in effect beginning 3 April at 2000 local time (1800 UTC). No person may enter or leave the neighborhood, except essential personnel or residents who need to be tested for COVID-19. The government stated that it will provide basic necessities for those in the quarantined community. Presently, Cuba has 233 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with six deaths.

In Ecuador, President Lenín Moreno extended a number of Ecuador’s COVID-19 emergency measures on 2 April. Only essential businesses such as supermarkets, pharmacies, restaurants with take-out or delivery services, gas stations and banks continue to operate through 12 April. All schools and universities will remain closed, all inter-provincial and international passenger transportation services will remain suspended through 30 April. The ban on all public gatherings will continue through 31 May.

In Guyana, street vending operations in the capital city Georgetown will end at 1900 local time (2300 UTC) on 3 April and remain shut down until further notice. Farmers, retailers and wholesalers will be allowed to operate at the Stabroek and Bourda markets only on Fridays from 0700-1300 local time. Authorities will enforce social distancing guidelines during market operations.

In Mexico, authorities permitted 46 U.K. nationals to disembark from a cruise ship anchored off the Yucatan state port of Puerto Progreso on 1 April in order to take a repatriation flight back to the U.K. The Mexican government agreed to allow the passengers, some of whom had symptoms consistent with COVID-19, to disembark after the cruise ship company agreed to pay for the repatriation of 141 Mexican nationals caught in the United Kingdom due to travel restrictions. The Mexican navy previously evacuated a passenger in critical condition from the ship on 31 March so that they could receive medical care ashore. Throughout March other Latin American countries such as Panama and Chile refused to allow cruise ships to disembark their passengers suspected of having COVID-19.

United States (Security threat level – 2): On 2 April 2020, local governments continued to enact measures intended to limit the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Washington Gov. Jay Inslee extended the statewide stay-at-home order until 4 May. The original stay-at-home order, which went into effect on 23 March, was set to expire on 6 April. Nonessential businesses will remain closed. Gas stations, grocery stores, pharmacies and other essential businesses will remain open. Finally, residents are required to stay home unless carrying out essential business such as performing an essential job, obtaining groceries and medicine or seeking medical care.

On 3 April officials in Golden Beach, Florida, which is located approximately 13 mi (21 km) north of Miami, began denying entry to all visitors. Deliveries are allowed as long as they are from services such as — but not exclusively limited to — Uber Eats, Instacart or Amazon. Deliveries requiring a large truck will not be allowed without approval from the town manager. Additionally, a mandatory curfew will go into effect from 2200-0600 local time (0200-1000 UTC) on 3 April, and remain in place until further notice. During the curfew period everyone must stay home.

ASIA

Asia: Authorities throughout Asia continue to enact measures intended to limit the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). In Thailand, the government imposed a nightly curfew until further notice, while authorities in Singapore and Taiwan enacted measures to reinforce social distancing and encouraged residents to wear face masks.

In Thailand, a nationwide nightly curfew from 2200-0400 local time (1500-2100 UTC) went into effect on 3 April, and will remain in place until further notice as a measure to combat the spread of COVID-19. When announcing the measure on 2 April, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha stated that exceptions will be made for health care workers, deliveries of essential goods such as food and fuel, bank staff and those seeking emergency medical care. However, exempted individuals require official permission from local authorities before breaking the curfew orders. Violators of the curfew face up to seven years in prison as well as a maximum 40,000 baht (1,213 U.S. dollar) fine.

On 3 April Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced the closure of most workplaces as of 7 April and schools as of 8 April. Essential businesses such as banks, clinics, hospitals, markets, supermarkets, transport operations and utilities will remain open. Restaurants may offer takeout and delivery options only. Authorities will no longer discourage residents from wearing face masks, reversing an earlier policy stating that only the sick should use masks. Beginning 5 April, authorities will distribute reusable masks to residents, reserving surgical masks for health care workers. Authorities are encouraging residents to stay home, avoid socializing with individuals outside their household, and only leave for essential purposes.

Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) announced on 3 April that violators of the country’s requirement to wear face masks aboard public transportation face fines of up to 15,000 Taiwanese dollars (496 U.S. dollars). Authorities noted that the implementation date for penalties is set to be announced following a meeting with officials from the Ministry of Transportation, which will enforce the order and issue the fines. The government previously announced on 1 April that passengers aboard public transportation must wear masks.

AUSTRALASIA

South Pacific Islands (Security threat level – 1): According to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC), as of 0900 UTC on 3 April 2020, Tropical Cyclone Harold was located approximately 930 km (580 mi) northwest of Port Vila, Vanuatu, and was moving east-southeast at 28 kph (17 mph). At that time, Harold was generating maximum sustained winds of 74 kph, with gusts of up to 93 kph. On its current path the storm is expected to cross over Vanuatu’s two largest islands, Espiritu Santo and Malakula, by 6 April, and could bring damaging winds and potential flooding. Additionally, heavy rainfall may also impact Efate Island, where the capital Port Vila is located. Harold is forecast to clear Vanuatu by 7 April, after which it is expected to gradually weaken as it tracks toward Fiji.

As the storm swept through the Solomon Islands during the early hours of 3 April, high seas reportedly washed several passengers aboard a ferry traveling to the port of West Are Are from Honiara overboard. Authorities stated that at least 60 people could be missing, although rescue efforts are ongoing. Flooding was reported across the Solomon Islands, and Australia donated approximately 60,000 U.S. dollars in emergency funding for recovery and relief efforts.

EUROPE

Europe: As of 3 April 2020, confirmed cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continue to increase significantly across countries in Europe. At present, there are four countries that have surpassed 50,000 confirmed cases: Spain (117,710), Italy (115,242), Germany (84,794) and France (59,929). Transportation services continue to be significantly disrupted and lockdowns and curfews continue to be applied across the continent as officials attempt to contain COVID-19.

On 2 April Portuguese officials banned all commercial flights and domestic travel during the Easter holiday weekend from 9-13 April. Residents will be required to stay in their home municipalities during the travel ban. Officials stated that flight restrictions will not apply to repatriation or cargo flights and they will be lifted altogether after the holiday period.

Meanwhile, officials in Moscow extended citywide lockdown measures until 1 May. Authorities stated that the previously announced QR-code registration system for residents conducting essential travel under the lockdown would not be enforced unless COVID-19 cases continue to increase significantly. President Vladimir Putin also announced that the nationwide “non-working” period would be extended through 30 April. Officials also announced that repatriation flights for Russian nationals would be suspended beginning on the night of 3 April.

Additionally, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic imposed a weekend curfew during 1300 local time (1100 UTC) on 4 April and 0500 on 6 April. Citizens over the age of 65 will be exempt from the weekend curfew for essential shopping needs from 0400-0700 local time on 5 April. The weekend curfew is in addition to a nationwide curfew from 1700-0500 local time during weekdays and a 24-hour curfew for residents over 65 in urban areas and over 70 in rural areas.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Middle East and North Africa: As of 3 April 2020, the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is continuing to spread in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. New cases were reported in Iran, Israel, Kuwait, Morocco, Oman and the Palestinian territories. Meanwhile, authorities in Egypt, Israel and Saudi Arabia implemented new restrictions in several municipalities. Additionally, Iraqi authorities announced several arrests for violating curfew.

In Egypt, on 3 April authorities quarantined a portion of the village of Sharaniis in the Menoufia governorate following the confirmation of at least five cases of COVID-19 within the village. Sharaniis is located in the Nile Delta, approximately 65 km (40 mi) north of Cairo. Reports indicate that all five cases are within a single family.

In Israel, the government declared a full lockdown on the Tel-Aviv Suburb of Bnei Brak on 2 April due to a sudden surge in cases of COVID-19. Residents of the suburb may only travel out of their residence for medical treatment, legal reasons, or to serve in an essential profession, such as the security forces, military or medical services. Additionally, all Bnei Brak residents over the age of 80 will be quarantined in specially designated hotels, regardless of their health condition. The lockdown is set to remain place until 9 April, and is likely to be renewed. Reports indicate that the number of infected individuals in the city could be as high as 75,000, which comprises approximately 38% of Bnei Brak’s total population.

In Saudi Arabia, authorities revised the hours for the daily curfew in the cities of Dammam, Taif and al-Qatif after guidance from health officials. In these cities, the new curfew hours commence at 1500 local time (1200 UTC), three hours earlier than the original curfew order. Exceptions for essential activities, such as purchasing groceries and seeking medical care, remain in place.

In Iraq, on 2 April, authorities announced the arrests of more than 8,800 curfew violators in Baghdad. Additionally, authorities seized approximately 770 vehicles and issued more than 32,000 fines for curfew violations. Authorities instituted a nationwide curfew on 24 March.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Sub-Saharan Africa: As of 3 April 2020, governments continue to implement varying degrees of restrictions across the African continent, where the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has spread to 50 countries and the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has surpassed 7,000. In Sub-Saharan Africa, the countries with the largest number of confirmed cases include: South Africa (1,462), Cameroon (306), Burkina Faso (288) and Ghana (204).

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), officials in the capital Kinshasa announced that a two-week lockdown will be implemented in the Gombe district — the city’s commercial center, where many expatriates reside and foreign diplomatic missions are located — beginning on 6 April. Health care and other emergency personnel will be permitted to work, while other businesses will close. Gombe residents have been ordered to stay at home for the duration of the lockdown. Previously, officials announced that all of Kinshasa’s 24 districts would go on lockdown as of 28 March; however, officials postponed the lockdown due to concerns of extreme price hikes and potential unrest in the city. Officials indicated that the majority of the 134 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Kinshasa have been recorded in Gombe.

As of 3 April separatist groups in Cameroon’s Northwest and Southwest regions are attempting to enforce a ban on travel into or out of the regions amid concerns that COVID-19 would spread into the regions. A U.K. government advisory indicates that separatist groups may seek to enforce additional restrictions, including banning travel by bus and taxi, restricting motorbike passengers to one, requiring face masks be worn at all times, banning gatherings of more than 20 people, requiring social distancing of at least 2 m (6.5 ft), and requiring personal protective equipment at gatherings of less than 20 people. Thus far, Cameroon has 306 confirmed COVID-19 cases.

Several U.S. diplomatic missions across the region are still working to arrange seats for U.S. citizens on U.S.-bound commercial flights amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Travelers in the region should contact their relevant embassies for additional information on flight availability.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Egypt (Security threat level – 4): On 3 April 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Egypt issued a Health Alert regarding a repatriation flight, which reads in part as follows:

"Location: Egypt

"Event: (UPDATE) EGYPTAIR FLIGHT TO THE U.S. DEPARTING APRIL 5 / NO OTHER FLIGHTS CURRENTLY PLANNED

"The U.S. Embassy in Cairo has coordinated with the Egyptian Government to arrange for repatriation flights from Egypt to the United States via EgyptAir, departing Cairo and flying directly to Washington, D.C. (Dulles) using a Boeing 787 Dreamliner. A flight is scheduled to depart on Sunday, April 5, with an estimated ticket price of US$1160.00 per passenger. There are no flights planned after April 5.

"If U.S. citizens wish to depart Egypt they should strongly consider purchasing a ticket for the April 5 flight immediately. You can purchase tickets directly by calling the EgyptAir call centers 24 hours a day:

"Landline: 0900 70000

"Mobile: 1717

"From outside of Egypt: Call the EgyptAir international call center +971 443 58 444"

To read the full text of the alert please click here .

Iraq (Security threat level – 5): On 3 April 2020, The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, issued a Health Alert, which reads in part as follows:

"The Iraqi Ministry of Health has confirmed cases of COVID-19 within Iraq.

"One commercial flight organized by the U.S. Embassy departed Baghdad on April 2. There is a possible additional flight next week. Tickets would likely cost approximately $3,500.

"If you have not yet contacted the U.S. Embassy about flight availability, please fill out the form in the link below so that we would alert you to future flights if available:

"Form for U.S. Citizens in Iraq Requesting Travel Information

"Please do not fill this form out if you have already sent an email to ErbilACS@state.gov or BaghdadACS@state.gov and have received a confirmation email. Fill out the form only once.

"If you are still located in Iraq, please be prepared to shelter in place until commercial flights resume."

To read the full text of the warning please click here .