Worldview Security Update – August 5, 2020
5-Aug-20

AMERICAS

Honduras (Security threat level – 4): On 4 August 2020, authorities announced plans to reopen airports in Honduras. Domestic flights will resume on 10 August, and international flights will resume on 17 August. Mandatory safety measures — including the use of protective face masks, temperature checks for passengers and social distancing — will be implemented in airports.

United States / Canada (Security threat levels – 2 / 2): As of the morning of 5 August 2020, more than 3.7 million homes and businesses along the northeastern U.S. coast from North Carolina to Maine are without electricity following the passage of Tropical Storm Isaias, which weakened into a post-tropical storm the previous night. At present, power outages are most severe in the states of New Jersey, New York and Connecticut. Electric utility providers have stated that some of the affected areas — particularly New Jersey — may be without power for as long as three days. Isaias has caused damage in at least nine states along the U.S. eastern coast, including Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Virginia, since it came ashore in North Carolina late on 3 August. In New York City, officials suspended commuter trains and shut down bridges on 4 August as wind gusts of up to 70 mph in the area downed hundreds of trees. In nearby New Jersey, transit services were suspended, and emergency crews cleared at least 150 downed trees from the streets. There were a total of at least six weather-related fatalities, including one in New York City.

According to the most recent update issued by the U.S. National Hurricane Center, Post-Tropical Storm Isaias was located approximately 90 km (55 mi) north-northwest of Quebec City, Canada, as of 0500 local time (0900 UTC). At that time, Isaias was moving north-northeast at 44 kph (28 mph) and had maximum sustained winds of 65 kph, with higher gusts. The storm is forecast to slightly decelerate and further weaken as it continues to move north-northeast through the evening of 5 August, and dissipate completely on 6 August.

Rainfall of between 25-75 mm (1-3 in) is forecast over portions of Canada’s southern Quebec province along the storm’s track, primarily around the St. Lawrence River. At least 60 mm of rain — with local maximums of up to 90 mm — has been reported in the St. Lawrence River Valley from Montreal northeast to Trois-Rivières. Waves reaching heights of 2-3 m are expected along the St. Lawrence Estuary and in southwestern New Brunswick province through the day. Wind speeds of up to 50 kph are possible in this region throughout the morning hours but will decrease as Isaias weakens later on 5 August. Meanwhile in the U.S., ongoing minor river flooding is likely to continue through 5 August over much of the Mid-Atlantic and New England regions as rivers gradually fall below current flood stage levels. Coastal swells are forecast to continue creating potentially hazardous surf and riptide conditions along the northeastern U.S. coastline through the morning hours before conditions return to normal later on 5 August. There are no storm-related watches, warnings or advisories in effect at this time.

AUSTRALASIA

Australia / India (Security threat levels – 2 / 3): On 5 August 2020, Queensland state Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced that the Australia state will close its borders to inbound travelers from the Australian Capital Territory — which includes the national capital Canberra — and the state of New South Wales beginning at 0100 local time on 8 August (1500 UTC on 7 August) and continuing until further notice. Limited exemptions include individuals residing along the state border who regularly travel back and forth. Returning Queensland residents will be required to undergo a 14-day quarantine in a state government-designated hotel at their own expense. An ongoing ban on travelers from the state of Victoria is also in effect until further notice. Entry is permitted for travelers arriving in Queensland from the rest of Australia.

In India, authorities at Kolkata’s Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport (VECC/CCU) announced on 4 August that all airport operations will be suspended on 5, 8, 20, 21, 27, 28 and 31 August. Officials announced the suspension of operations in response to the state government’s change to lockdown dates in August. Previously, lockdowns were scheduled to occur on 16, 17, 23 and 24 August.

EUROPE

France (Security threat level – 3): On 4 August 2020, COVID-19 testing began at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport (LFPG/GDG) for travelers arriving from Algeria, Bahrain, Brazil, India, Israel, Kuwait, Madagascar, Oman, Panama, Peru, Qatar, Serbia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and the U.S. Arriving travelers must present the results of a negative COVID-19 test performed within 72 hours prior to arrival or they will be subject to a mandatory test upon arrival. The testing requirement for travelers without a test certificate went into effect on 1 August for travelers from the aforementioned 16 countries, which French authorities classify as high-risk for COVID-19 transmission. Additionally, general travel to those countries is also prohibited; limited exemptions exist for French citizens residing in one of those locations, or foreign nationals of those countries who reside in France. Individuals who are tested at the airport are not required to quarantine and should receive their results within 24-28 hours.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Lebanon (Security threat level – 4): As of 5 August 2020, search, rescue and recovery efforts remain ongoing near the Port of Beirut following a large accidental explosion that occurred on the evening of 4 August. The powerful blast caused significant damage to buildings and vehicles in the capital Beirut, particularly near the city’s seafront area. At least 100 people were killed and 4,000 others were injured as a result of the blast, and it is highly likely that the death toll will increase further. Additionally, approximately 300,000 people were displaced from their residences due to the explosion. Officials have launched an investigation into the blast that was reportedly caused by the detonation of at least 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate stored at a port warehouse without adherence to required safety measures.

Beirut-Rafic Hariri International Airport (OLBA/BEY) is open and operational, although a part of the roof at the facility collapsed due to the blast. Hospitals in Beirut remain overwhelmed with casualties caused by the explosion. Several hospitals in the city sustained damage from the explosion, and began treating patients in the open air. Prior to the explosion, intensive care units at Beirut area hospitals were already nearing capacity due to COVID-19 patients, and at least one had to turn patients away. Due to the strain on emergency medical services, the Lebanese Red Cross is sending additional resources from other parts of the country to assist in recovery efforts. The local emergency number (140) remains overwhelmed with calls. The military is also assisting in the response efforts.

The Supreme Defense Council has declared a nationwide state of emergency and declared Beirut’s port zone to be a disaster area. Banks nationwide are closed until further notice. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Hassan Diab appealed for assistance from foreign countries. Governments in the region, including Iran, Qatar and Israel, as well as the French, U.K. and U.S. governments, have pledged to assist Lebanon in recovery efforts. The French, Jordanian, Qatari and Russian governments are sending emergency resources to Lebanon, including field hospitals and search and rescue personnel.

In addition to the damage throughout the city, the Australian Embassy sustained significant damage, while officials with the Russian Embassy also reported minor damage. Staff at both embassies reported minor injuries from flying glass, but there were no reports of fatalities among diplomatic personnel. The U.S. Embassy warned that the explosion may have released toxic gas and advised individuals to remain indoors as much as possible and to wear masks if available. Local officials cautioned residents to avoid mountainous areas outside the city due to toxic gas concerns.

Analyst Comment: While the long-term impact of the disaster is unknown, it occurred amid a faltering economy and increasing mistrust of political leadership, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic. The loss of the Port of Beirut — even temporarily — will only add to the country’s economic difficulties, as it is reliant on imports for essential goods, including medicine and foodstuffs. Organizations with assets and personnel in Lebanon should closely monitor the situation and be ready to adapt their safety and security procedures with little advance notice.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Sub-Saharan Africa: As of 5 August 2020, governments across the Sub-Saharan Africa region continue to amend policies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia and Guinea, authorities extended existing restrictions, whereas authorities in Guinea-Bissau, Kenya and Niger eased coronavirus-related measures.

In Côte d’Ivoire, the existing state of emergency, which includes land and maritime border closures, remains in place and is expected to last through 31 August. However, officials eased some restrictions, including allowing bars, nightclubs, movie theaters and other entertainment venues in Abidjan, the country’s largest urban center, to reopen as of 31 July. Individuals are required to wear face masks in all public spaces.

In Gambia, authorities closed all nonessential public places until at least 2 November due to a recent surge in COVID-19 cases. According to the mandate, nonessential public places include bars, cafes, casinos, nightclubs, recreational facilities, restaurants and theaters. In addition, all public and private gatherings and group events are prohibited. Violators of the restrictions may be subject to a fine of 1,000 Gambian dalasi (approximately 20 U.S. dollars).

In Guinea, the government extended the ongoing state of health emergency through at least 15 August. Conversely, the government also announced that Conakry’s Gbessia International Airport (GUCY/CKY) has reopened.

In Guinea-Bissau, officials lifted the coronavirus-related curfew and permitted public markets to reopen and public transportation to resume. Despite lifting these measures, a state of emergency remains in place, and individuals are required to wear face masks in all public areas.

In Kenya and Niger, commercial international flights were permitted to resume on 1 August. Passengers traveling to Kenya are subject to various coronavirus-related entry requirements, including proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours prior to arrival and potential mandatory quarantine periods; inbound travelers will be screened upon arrival. Passengers traveling to Niger are likewise subject to special entry requirements, including proof of a negative COVID-19 test also taken within 72 hours prior to arrival, health screenings upon arrival, and a 14-day self-quarantine period for asymptomatic individuals.