ASIA China (Security threat level – 3): On 23 November...
Cuba / Jamaica / Cayman Islands / United States (Security threat levels – 2 / 3 / 1 / 2): As of 0800 local time (1200 UTC) on 24 August 2020, Tropical Storm Laura was located approximately 200 km (125 mi) east-southeast of Cayo Largo, Cuba, and 330 km east-southeast of the Isle of Youth, Cuba, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center. At that time, Laura was moving west-northwest at 33 kph (21 mph) and was generating maximum sustained winds of 100 kph with higher gusts. On its current path, the storm is projected to move over the Caribbean Sea just off the southern coast of Cuba through 24 August and into the southeastern Gulf of Mexico by the morning of 25 August. Laura is forecast to strengthen into a Category 1 hurricane late on 25 August and shift northwest by 26 August as it moves over the central and northwestern Gulf of Mexico and approaches the northwestern U.S. Gulf Coast. The storm is anticipated to make landfall as a hurricane between eastern Texas and west-central Louisiana by late 26 or early 27 August.
Hispaniola island — which encompasses Haiti and the Dominican Republic — is still recovering after Laura caused widespread flooding and power outages. The Haitian government stated that the storm killed nine people, including one who died after strong winds felled a tree onto her residence in the coastal town of Anse-a-Pitres. Authorities also reported two people missing. In the Dominican Republic, a building wall collapse killed at least two people.
Total rainfall accumulations through 25 August are forecast as follows: 100-200 mm (4-8 in), with isolated maximums of 300 mm, in Cuba and Jamaica; 50-100 mm, with isolated maximums of up to 150 mm, in the Cayman Islands; and 25-50 mm for the Florida Keys, northwestern Bahamas and Turks and Caicos. During 26-28 August, Laura is forecast to produce total rainfall accumulations of 125-255 mm (5-10 in), with isolated maximums of up to 380 mm, across parts of the west-central Gulf Coast near the Louisiana-Texas border and north into the lower Mississippi Valley. The heavy rain may cause widespread urban and flash flooding as well as minor river flooding across the impact area. Swells generated by the storm will create hazardous surf conditions along portions of central and western Cuba, the central and northwestern Bahamas, and the Florida Keys through 24 August.
Peru (Security threat level – 3): From 26-27 August 2020, the Peruvian Medical Federation (FMP) will observe a nationwide strike to demand more personal protective equipment (PPE) and higher salaries for healthcare workers, as well as a higher budget for the health care sector. According to the FMP, emergency medical services will not be disrupted during the strike. Negotiations between FMP and the government are ongoing.
United States (Security threat level – 2): Hurricane Marco weakened into a tropical storm on the night of 23 August 2020. According to the U.S. National Hurricane Center, as of 0700 local time (1200 UTC) on 24 August, Tropical Storm Marco was located approximately 85 mi (135 km) south-southeast of the entrance of the Mississippi River and had maximum sustained winds of 50 mph (80 kph), with higher gusts. At that time, Marco was traveling northwest at 10 mph. On its current forecast path, the storm will approach coastal areas of the southeastern U.S. state of Louisiana in the afternoon hours of 24 August, after which it will turn west and track parallel to the coast through the night of 25 August. Marco is forecast to weaken into a tropical depression late on 25 August and dissipate on 26 August.
The storm is forecast to produce 3-5 in (75-125 mm) of rain, with isolated maximums of 255 mm, across parts of the northeastern and northcentral Gulf Coast through 25 August, which could cause flash floods in the area. Additionally, storm-generated swells are likely to affect parts of the northern Gulf Coast for the next 48 hours and may create hazardous surf and riptide conditions. Storm surges of between 2-4 ft (0.6-1.2 m) are possible along the coast from Morgan City, Louisiana, east to Ocean Springs, Mississippi, including Lake Borgne. Intermittent tornadoes are possible through 24 August in areas from southeastern Louisiana to the western Florida Panhandle. A Tropical Storm Warning is currently in effect from Intracoastal City, Louisiana, to the border of Alabama and Mississippi, for the New Orleans metropolitan area as well as for Lakes Maurepas and Pontchartrain. A Storm Surge Warning is in effect from Morgan City to Ocean Springs, including Lake Borgne.
Philippines (Security threat level – 4): During the early afternoon of 24 August 2020, multiple explosions occurred in Barangay Walled City in Jolo municipality, the capital of Sulu province. The first blast occurred at approximately 1150 local time (0350 UTC) when an improvised explosive device (IED) attached to a motorcycle exploded near a military vehicle parked in front of a food shop on Serantes Street. The second blast occurred at approximately 1300 local time in an adjacent area, located about 100 m (330 ft) from the first explosion site, when a suspected suicide bomber detonated explosives on Buyon Road between the Jolo Cathedral and the Development Bank of the Philippines. Police and military bomb technicians were deployed across Jolo to search for any additional explosive devices — one unexploded bomb was reportedly discovered in a public market. At least 14 people, including seven soldiers, were killed in the explosions, and 75 more were wounded.
In addition, the Philippine Coast Guard placed the provinces of Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and Zamboanga under red alert status, which grants security forces additional authority to impose strict security protocols, including checkpoints, movement restrictions and other public safety measures. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack; however, the Abu Sayyaf Islamist militant group remains active in Sulu province and the surrounding areas. The group has perpetrated similar attacks in the past, including a dual bombing of the Jolo Cathedral — located near the blast sites — in January 2019, which killed 20 people and wounded 100 others.
South Korea / North Korea (Security threat levels – 2 / 3) : As of 1800 local time (0900 UTC) on 24 August 2020, Typhoon Bavi was located approximately 835 km (520 mi) south-southwest of Chinhae, South Korea, and was moving northeast at 13 kph (8 mph). At that time, Bavi was generating maximum sustained winds of 140 kph, with gusts of up to 167 kph. On its current path, the storm is forecast to make landfall in North Korea’s South Hwanghae province between 26 and 27 August. The storm is expected to produce heavy rainfall of between 100 and 150 mm (4-6 in) in areas of western South Korea, including the capital Seoul, as it passes parallel to the coast. On South Korea’s Jeju Island, authorities forecast rainfall of up to 500 mm, which will likely cause flash floods and landslides.
Australia / India / New Zealand (Security threat levels – 2 / 3 / 1): On 24 August 2020, Premier Daniel Andrews of Australia’s Victoria state — where Melbourne is located — announced plans to extend the current coronavirus-related state of emergency for an additional 12 months following the order’s expiration on 13 September. Andrews stated that on 1 September he will introduce legislation before the state parliament that if passed would amend the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 to allow for states of emergency to remain in place longer than the current legal maximum of six months. Victoria’s current state of emergency has been in place since 13 March, reaching the six-month mark on 13 September, after which it cannot be extended further per existing law. Legislators will have until that time to approve or reject the measure. The state of disaster declaration issued on 4 August is also set to expire on 13 September, lifting the current stage 4 restrictions and potentially reopening the state before the virus is contained. The state of emergency grants the chief health officer additional powers to implement a wide range of restrictions, health measures and curfews intended to curb the spread of COVID-19.
On 23 August authorities in India’s Tamil Nadu state — where Chennai is located — imposed a statewide curfew on Sundays until further notice due to a recent surge in COVID-19 cases. During the curfew, residents must remain in their homes except to perform essential activities such as to procure food and medicine or to seek medical care. All nonessential businesses will be closed. Authorities will be deployed throughout the state to enforce compliance with the curfew.
In New Zealand, on 24 August Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern extended the current Level 3 lockdown of Auckland until at least 2359 local time (1159 UTC) on 30 August, after which the city will transition to Level 2 alongside the rest of the country until at least 6 September. Auckland’s Level 3 and the nationwide Level 2 lockdowns were set to expire at 2359 local on 26 August prior to the prime minister’s recent action. Furthermore, as of 24 August face masks are mandatory for all passengers on all forms of public transportation for regions under Level 2 restrictions and higher. Under Level 3, residents are required to remain in their homes — except to perform essential activities — and public venues, such as gyms, libraries, markets and museums, must close. In addition, residents are required to work from home unless they are unable to do so. Additional restrictions on movement and other health guidelines remain in place. Level 2 restrictions remain in place nationwide; however, Auckland will be under tighter Level 2 restrictions than rest of the country after the transition. For example, public and private gatherings will be restricted to 10 people, while events such as weddings and funerals will be restricted to 50 people; under “normal” Level 2 orders, such gatherings are capped at 100 attendees. Additional details regarding New Zealand’s COVID-19 alert system are available here .
Ireland / Spain (Security threat levels – 2 / 3): On 21 August 2020, authorities in Ireland extended local coronavirus-related restrictions in County Kildare until at least 6 September. The orders, which originally took effect on 7 August, impose a series of movement controls on travel into and out of Kildare and put limits on business activities, gatherings and the provision of transportation within the county. The full list of current restrictions in Kildare is available here . On 18 August, amended health measures went into effect nationwide. Most businesses, cultural centers and public services have been permitted to reopen with limits on total occupancy and with public health mandates. For example, indoor gatherings of up to six attendees are permitted while outdoor gatherings are limited to 15 people. Cafes and restaurants may operate until 2330 local time (2230 UTC) daily and are limited to no more than six patrons at a time. Additional information on current nationwide measures is available here .
In Spain, authorities are imposing restrictions on gatherings amid a steady increase of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country as of 24 August. Officials in Catalonia — an autonomous community located in Spain’s northeast that includes the port city of Barcelona — have prohibited social gatherings of more than 10 people, reduced maximum capacities in school classrooms, and allotted 500,000 PCR tests for schools and institutes. In the southeastern region of Murcia, authorities have prohibited gatherings of more than six people who do not cohabitate. Additionally, officials in the capital Madrid have advised residents to avoid “unnecessary social interactions."
Bahrain / Tunisia (Security threat levels – 3 / 3): On 20 August 2020, the government of Bahrain amended its quarantine requirements for travelers eligible to enter the country. Travelers who receive a negative result from a COVID-19 test administered upon arrival will not be required to self-quarantine after results are available. All passengers are required to take a COVID-19 test upon arrival and a second test 10 days later; travelers are responsible for paying for their own tests, which cost 30 Bahraini dinars (80 U.S. dollars) each. Those who test positive will be required to undergo mandatory quarantine either at a government facility or personal accommodation until they test negative for COVID-19. In addition, all arriving travelers must comply with health surveillance procedures, including wearing an electronic bracelet, downloading and using the “BeAware” mobile application and providing contact information to health officials. Those found in violation of quarantine rules will be subject to a fine of up to 10,000 dinars and three months imprisonment. At present, entry into Bahrain is restricted to Bahraini nationals, permanent residents and others who obtain a valid e-visa.
In Tunisia, the government imposed a nightly curfew during 1700-0500 local time (1600-0400 UTC) in the southern towns of Hamma and Hamma Gharbia until at least 27 August. Authorities enacted the curfews in response to a recent surge of COVID-19 cases, which have exceeded 100 new cases per day since early August.
Madagascar / Somalia (Security threat levels – 3 / 5): On 22 August 2020, the government of Madagascar extended the country’s ongoing health state of emergency until at least 6 September. The nationwide nightly curfew during 2100-0400 local time (1800-0100 UTC) remains in effect. Markets and shops are permitted to operate during 0600-1700 local time. Movement restrictions, including the suspension of public transportation services and occupancy limits for taxis and motorcycles, remain in place. One person per household is permitted to travel outside of their home at a time, and a face mask must be worn in public at all times. Domestic and international flights remain suspended until further notice.
In Somalia, the government amended its entry and exit requirements for all travelers. All arriving travelers must now show proof of a negative result from a COVID-19 test taken within 96 hours (four days) prior to their travel date, while departing travelers must provide a negative test result within 72 hours of departure. Additionally, arriving passengers at Hargeisa’s Egal International Airport (HCMH/HGA) may be subject to temperature screenings and other health procedures upon entry, and individuals displaying symptoms of COVID-19 may be transferred to isolation facilities for additional testing.
Mali (Security threat level – 5): Over the weekend of 21-23 August 2020, several protests occurred in the capital Bamako and elsewhere in Mali. On 22 August security forces deployed tear gas in front of Bourse du Travail in central Bamako to disperse demonstrators, after small-scale clashes occurred between supporters and opponents of former President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. There were no reports of casualties during the clashes. On 21 August the June 5 Movement (M5) held a large-scale rally in Bamako. Security forces did not intervene and there were no reports of violence. Meanwhile, in the northern city of Gao, troops with the U.N. Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) — working in coordination with French military forces — increased patrols on 21 August following reports of widespread violence and looting overnight on 20-21 August. Several individuals were reportedly wounded in shooting events; additional details remain unknown. Demonstrations are likely over the coming weeks and travelers should avoid areas where demonstrations are occurring due to the likelihood of violence.
In related developments, as of 24 August negotiations between a delegation from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and leaders of the military junta — the National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP) — are ongoing for a third consecutive day. According to leaders from both sides, the two groups have reached agreements on several key issues but have not yet resolved all the concerns; neither group provided details as to what agreements have been reached. Unofficial reports indicate that the CNSP has proposed a three-year transition, during which the military will remain in control of the government. Meanwhile, a senior officer linked to the junta stated that discussions have focused on the ECOWAS sanctions against Mali following the military coup. The heads of state of the ECOWAS are scheduled to meet on 26 August to discuss whether to escalate or loosen sanctions.
Cyprus / Greece / Turkey (Security threat levels – 2 / 3 / 4): On 21 August 2020, the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) issued a Maritime Security advisory, which reads in part as follows:
"1. Issues: Recent disputes among countries over maritime boundaries and offshore resources have increased regional tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. Also, NATO’s Operation Sea Guardian has resumed focused NATO patrols in the Eastern Mediterranean with naval forces of multiple nations operating near each other. These developments could pose an indirect risk to commercial vessels operating in the area.
"2. Guidance: Vessels operating in this area are advised to review security measures, ensure AIS is transmitting at all times (except when transmitting creates a threat to the safety or security of the ship or where a security incident is imminent, consistent with provisions of SOLAS and U.S. regulations), and monitor VHF Channel 16."
To read the full text of the advisory, please click here .