AMERICAS Guatemala (Security threat level – 4): On 29 July...
Americas: As of 9 April 2020, 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 (16,238), Chile (5,546) and Ecuador (4,450). Significant developments in Antigua and Barbuda, Brazil, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama and Peru are outlined below.
On 8 April the government of Antigua and Barbuda extended the country’s lockdown until 0600 local time (1000 UTC) on 16 April. Under the measure, only essential services — such as grocery stores, pharmacies, banks and medical facilities, are allowed to operate. Also, groups of more than 10 people are banned. The original lockdown order began on 2 April, and was due to expire on 9 April.
The Brazilian Supreme Federal Court (STF) on 8 April ruled in favor of states and municipal governments that have enacted social distancing and quarantine measures by stating that the federal government cannot “unilaterally dismiss” the orders of local executives adopted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In São Paulo, Gov. João Doria has imposed a statewide quarantine since 21 March, which continues through at least 22 April. Additionally, state officials have implemented social distancing measures in the northeastern Paraíba state continue until at least 19 April. President Jair Bolsonaro had publicly announced on 31 March that state governors could not impose quarantine measures, and threatened to repeal enacted measures, which led to a nationwide state of confusion. Separately, the attorney general’s office on 7 April withdrew a request filed by opposition politicians on 30 March before the STF to remove Bolsonaro from office.
Beginning on 13 April all residents of Guatemala must wear a face mask while outside of their homes. Violators will be fined an amount to be determined by the government. The military will distribute 3 million washable face masks to the public on 13 April, beginning with the communities most at risk. Authorities also stated that they will take more drastic measures to prevent the virus from spreading if the number of new COVID-19 cases increases to 20 per day, but did not offer details on what those measures would be.
In Honduras, officials on 8 April extended the nationwide curfew until 19 April. Residents will be permitted to leave their homes to obtain food, medicine and fuel one day a week, on a Monday, Wednesday or Friday from 0900-1500 local time (1500-2100 UTC), based on their identification card number. All vehicular and pedestrian traffic will be prohibited on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. The curfew initially went into effect on 16 March and has been extended twice.
In Panama, officials on 8 April announced that a nationwide quarantine will be implemented from 11-12 April. Under the order, residents are prohibited from leaving their homes except for emergencies. The country’s public security minister warned that security personnel will be deployed to enforce the order, and that violators will have their driver’s license suspended for three months.
In Peru, President Martín Vizcarra on 8 April extended the nationwide state of emergency until 26 April. The measure extends the country’s border closures and imposes a nightly curfew from 1800-0500 local time (2300-1000 UTC). Additionally, residents are only allowed to leave their homes in order to obtain food or medication, or to visit banks. Men may only leave their homes on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, while women are allowed to leave their homes on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. All movements are banned on Sundays. The gender-specific movement restrictions are expected to be lifted on 13 April. The state of emergency was due to expire on 12 April.
United States / Canada (Security threat levels – 2 / 2): As of 9 April 2020, the number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases and the number of resulting fatalities both continue to escalate in the U.S., particularly in New York and other northeastern states. Additionally, the states of Louisiana and Michigan continue to report high infection and mortality rates. Efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 are ongoing across the country; most recently, on 8 April Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp extended the statewide shelter-in-place order through 30 April; the order has been in effect since the evening of 3 April, and exempts travel to obtain essential goods or services and to workplaces deemed critical. As of the latest reports, more than 435,700 individuals in the U.S. have contracted COVID-19 and related fatalities have exceeded 14,850.
In Canada, officials in the northwestern British Columbia province announced on 8 April that all international travelers returning to the province will be required to present details regarding a plan to self-isolate for 14 days beginning on 10 April. The requirement applies to travelers arriving at Vancouver International Airport (CYVR/YVR) as well as those crossing land borders. Canadian health officials have so far recorded at least 19,290 COVID-19 cases, with more than 435 fatalities; the eastern Ontario province — where a record 550 new cases were reported on 8 April — has the highest death toll in the country, with 275 fatalities.
Asia / Australasia: As of 9 April 2020, countries throughout the Asia-Pacific region continue to impose restrictions on entry and travel. Cambodia announced a ban on travel within the country, and Sri Lanka extended a nightly curfew indefinitely in five districts. Meanwhile, authorities in New Zealand ordered mandatory quarantines for all arrivals. Additional details for Japan, Malaysia and Brunei are also outlined below.
In Cambodia, Prime Minister Hun Sen on 9 April ordered a ban on inter-provincial and inter-district travel in the country until 16 April. However, exceptions remain for unspecified emergency services, cargo shipments, civil servants and sanitization operations. Garment workers and travelers seeking medical attention are also exempt.
On 8 April officials in Sri Lanka extended the nationwide nightly curfew — from 1800-0600 local time (1230-0030 UTC) — in the districts of Colombo, Gampaha, Kalutara, Puttalam and Kandy until further notice. Meanwhile, the curfew in the remaining 19 districts will be lifted briefly between 0600-1600 local time on 9 April before expiring on 14 April. Furthermore, officials warned residents to avoid public celebrations and festivals of the Sinhala and Tamil New Year on 14 April.
In New Zealand, at 2359 local time (1159 UTC) on 9 April a mandatory 14-day quarantine order for all arrivals went into effect. Arriving passengers will be quarantined in one of 18 hotels; those who exhibit COVID-19 symptoms will require additional days in isolation. At this time, the nationwide lockdown is expected to remain in place until 22 April.
In Japan, Aichi prefecture Gov. Omura Hideaki announced on 6 April that he will declare a state of emergency from 10 April through 6 May. He also requested that Prime Minister Abe Shinzo add the prefecture to the state of emergency announced on 7 April for seven other prefectures, including Tokyo and Osaka. Under the declaration, Omura will advise schools to remain closed until 6 May and residents to avoid nonessential travel. However, the prefectural government cannot enforce the order with punitive action.
In a related development in Japan, the Association of Medical Doctors of Asia (AMDA) will open a multilingual hotline on 10 April for foreign residents in the country seeking guidance on COVID-19. The hotline will be open every day from 1000-1700 local time (0100-0800 UTC). Operating languages include English, Chinese, Korean, Spanish and Vietnamese.
On 8 April the government of Malaysia announced that it will begin distributing four face masks per household, approximately 24.6 million masks in total. State authorities throughout the Malay Peninsula already received masks, and the government is preparing for the distribution of masks to Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan states on 10 April. Frontline medical workers will go door to door to distribute the masks.
South Pacific Islands / Niue (Security threat levels – 1 / 1): As of 0900 UTC on 9 April 2020, Tropical Cyclone Harold was located approximately 615 km (380 mi) south of the island nation Niue, and was moving east-southeast at 60 kph (37 mph), according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC). At that time, Harold was generating maximum sustained winds of 175 kph, with gusts of up to 215 kph. The storm is expected to pass over Niue before dissipating on 10 April.
Overnight on 8-9 April, Harold strengthened to a Category 5 storm from a Category 4 as it passed over Tonga, prompting officials on the island to declare a state of emergency. The storm caused significant damage throughout the island, particularly in the southern region near the capital Nuku’alofa. The storm reportedly destroyed dozens of homes while widespread flooding damaged a large portion of the island’s infrastructure. In addition, heavy rainfall and strong winds knocked down hundreds of trees and electric cables, causing severe power outages. Thus far, there have been no reports of casualties in Tonga.
Europe: As of 9 April 2020, confirmed cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) have continued to significantly increase across Europe. At present, there are five countries that have surpassed 50,000 confirmed cases: Spain (152,446), Italy (139,422), Germany (113,296), France (112,950) and the U.K. (61,487). Transportation services continue to be significantly disrupted and restrictions continue to be extended across the continent as officials attempt to contain COVID-19.
On 9 April Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki announced that the country’s border will remain closed until at least 3 May. Officials stated that businesses will also remain closed through 19 April and mandated that residents cover their mouths and noses when in public through at least 16 April.
Officials in the German state of Brandenburg also announced new restrictions on travelers. Beginning on 10 April all travelers arriving to the state will be expected to self-quarantine for 14 days. The new restriction applies through 19 April.
On 8 April Lithuanian officials announced a ban on travel during the Easter holiday weekend from 10-13 April to slow the spread of COVID-19. More than 300 police checkpoints will be set up across the country to check travelers. Exceptions to the domestic travel ban include people traveling to work and returning home. Extensive roadblocks and police checkpoints are also expected in Italy and Spain throughout the holiday period.
Additionally, French officials extended the nationwide lockdown beyond the 15 April expiration date. President Emmanuel Macron is expected to release further details on 13 April. Officials in Paris and the departments of Hauts-de-Seine, Seine-et-Marne, Val-de-Marne, Val-d’Oise and Yvelines announced further restrictions. Residents are not allowed to leave their homes for physical exercise from 1000-1900 local time (0800-1700 UTC) in an effort to lessen crowds during the daytime.
Meanwhile, officials in Switzerland extended lockdown measures through 26 April. Previously, the lockdown was expected to end on 19 April. Officials indicated that they will likely lift some restrictions before May.
Middle East and North Africa: As of 9 April 2020, governments across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region are continuing to revise and extend restrictions in an effort to control the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
In Egypt, on 8 April local officials in the governorate of Beni Suef, located approximately 150 km (95 mi) south of Cairo, isolated 1,000 families and shut down a local factory in an effort to control the spread of COVID-19 in the governorate.
In Israel, security forces on 9 April arrested 20 far-right settlers in violation of a government-mandated quarantine in Jerusalem. Authorities placed the 20 individuals on a bus, where they broke windows and rioted, to transfer them to a temporary holding facility. There were no reports of casualties in the incident.
In Jordan, on 8 April officials announced the implementation of a nationwide curfew from 2359 local time (2059 UTC) on 9 April until 2359 local time on 11 April. Essential personnel — including government employees, medical personnel and COVID-19 researchers — are exempt from the curfew.
In Oman, on 8 April officials announced that a lockdown on the governorate of Muscat is set to begin on 10 April. The lockdown will prohibit any travel into or out of Muscat governorate — which includes the capital Muscat — and individuals will only be allowed to exit their homes for grocery shopping. The lockdown is slated to last until 22 April. As part of the lockdown, the Royal Omani Police will facilitate the movement of food supplies and medical personnel in the governorate.
Sub-Saharan Africa: As of 9 April 2020, governments continue to implement restrictions across the African continent as the number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has reached nearly 11,500 — with Comoros and Lesotho the only two countries on the continent without confirmed cases. In Sub-Saharan Africa, the countries with the largest numbers of confirmed cases include: South Africa (1,845), Cameroon (730), Burkina Faso (414) and Côte d’Ivoire (384). The most recent notable developments in Botswana, Liberia, Nigeria, the Seychelles, Togo, Uganda and Zimbabwe are addressed below.
In Botswana, the government voted to extend the countrywide state of emergency for a period of up to six months on 9 April. Under the order, residents are advised to practice social distancing measures. Additionally, only individuals performing essential services or tasks and those transporting cargo may leave their homes. Furthermore, the president, the entire Cabinet and all members of parliament will undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine beginning on 9 April. The order is a response to a COVID-19 diagnosis for a health care worker who screened lawmakers on 8 April. The lawmakers will be tested on the 14th day of their quarantine. If their results are negative, they will be allowed to leave quarantine but must abide by social distancing measures. It is currently unknown what measures will be taken in case of a positive test.
In Liberia, President George Weah declared a state of emergency and a three-week nationwide lockdown on 8 April, which is set to begin at 2359 local time/UTC on 10 April. During this period, residents may only leave their homes for essential purposes, such as to procure food or seek medical care. Only one resident per household is permitted outside at a time. Authorities advised residents to limit essential activities to one hour and only travel to areas in the immediate vicinity of their homes. Weah has also banned all travel between Liberia’s 15 counties during the lockdown period.
In Nigeria, police officers and military personnel face allegations of violence and excessive use of force as they attempt to implement public health measures. In Nigeria, clashes broke out between police officers and residents in a suburb outside of Kaduna — the capital of central Kaduna state — on the afternoon of 8 April. Police officers fired tear gas and live ammunition to disperse a group of people who had reportedly congregated at a local market, violating social distancing guidelines. The violence left at least four people dead and 10 others injured.
In the Seychelles, President Danny Faure declared a three-week nationwide lockdown in effect as of 0000 local time on 9 April (2000 UTC on 8 April). During the lockdown period, nonessential movement is prohibited and nonessential businesses — including restaurants — have been ordered to close. Essential businesses, including banks, grocery stores and pharmacies, remain open. Additionally, Faure announced the closure of airports through the end of April and an increase of maritime patrols and surveillance to prevent the importation of additional COVID-19 cases.
In Togo, government officials announced additional public health measures for Sokode city on 8 April. The new restrictions ban the use of two-wheeled vehicles (motorcycle taxis), isolate the locality of Koubon and the surrounding area from the main city of Sokode, and allow for greater enforcement of the nationwide nightly curfew. The decision followed five additional confirmed COVID-19 cases in Sokode. In total, Togo has 70 confirmed cases.
In Uganda, President Yoweri Museveni introduced new social distancing measures and travel restrictions on 9 April. Among the newest orders, Museveni announced that exercising in public is banned until further notice. In addition, all motorcycle taxis — known as boda bodas — are prohibited from operating after 1400 local time (110 UTC), although taxis may operate at any time if carrying cargo. The president stated that residents will face harsh penalties for violating public orders. Additionally, he condemned security forces for the reported poor treatment of individuals defying curfew, and threatened to severely punish any security personnel using force against local residents. Uganda has 53 confirmed COVID-19 cases.
Meanwhile, the Zimbabwean military and police units announced an increase in joint patrols, surveillance and roadblocks nationwide ahead of the Easter holiday weekend to enforce the ongoing nationwide lockdown, which bans nonessential pedestrian and vehicular traffic. Police officials also announced the arrests of more than 2,850 people for violating restrictions since 30 March.
Barbados (Security threat level – 1): On 8 April 2020, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for Barbados, which reads in part as follows: “Supermarkets will open on 8, 9 and 11 April but there will be no in store shopping. On line orders only with the option of home delivery, curbside pickups or collection from store at a designated time. Provisions are in place for people unable to order over the phone or on line.”
Colombia (Security threat level – 4): On 8 April 2020, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for Colombia, which reads in part as follows: “Further restrictions apply in Bogota, based on gender. Going outdoors for grocery shopping, banking, financial and notarial services will be restricted to males on odd numbered days, and to females on even numbered days; transgender people may follow the restrictions based on the gender with which they identify. These restrictions do not apply to accessing health services.”