Worldview Security Update – February 28, 2020
28-Feb-20

ASIA

China / Japan / Nigeria / South Korea / Netherlands / New Zealand / Lithuania (Security threat levels – 3 / 1 / 5 / 2 / 2 / 1 / 2): As of 28 February 2020, approximately 83,700 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) have been reported in at least 50 countries and territories, with at least 2,850 deaths. Overnight, several more countries reported new cases of the virus. Nigeria — which recorded its first confirmed case — marked the first known instance of the virus in sub-Saharan Africa; the patient is an Italian national who recently traveled through Milan. In addition, Belarus, Lithuania, the Netherlands and New Zealand also reported their first cases of the virus.

The pace of new infections outside of China continues to climb. Health officials in South Korea reported a one-day increase of approximately 570 confirmed cases of the virus, which marks the largest number of new cases to be reported worldwide for the second day in a row. South Korea has more than 2,335 confirmed cases. In Japan, officials reported an additional 12 cases from the previous day, along with one death, bringing the total to more than 225 cases, with five deaths nationwide — excluding those aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship. In addition, the governor of Hokkaido declared a state of emergency through 19 March and advised residents to remain indoors through the weekend as a precaution.

More governments have implemented measures to curb the spread of the virus. On 28 February, the Swiss government announced the suspension of public events involving more than 1,000 people through mid-March. German authorities in Heinsberg in North Rhine-Westphalia state implemented a mandatory quarantine of at least 1,000 individuals with possible exposure to two infected people who had attended carnival festivities earlier in the month. Additionally, schools in the district have closed through 2 March as a precaution. Bahrain’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced it would evacuate its citizens from Iran and will place evacuees in mandatory quarantine upon repatriation.

More countries are implementing travel restrictions and medical screenings at airports. Lebanon — which has three reported cases of the virus — announced the suspension of all inbound travel for non-residents from countries with confirmed cases of COVID-19. Meanwhile, Russia implemented travel restrictions that prevent Iranian and South Korean nationals, as well as anyone with recent travel through either country, from entering Russia. India has temporarily suspended visa services for Japanese and South Korean nationals — more than 25 countries have implemented travel restrictions or mandatory quarantine procedures for South Korean nationals. Earlier on 27 February, New Zealand implemented travel restrictions for Iran that prohibit entry to travelers who have visited Iran in the past 14 days.

The imposition of travel restrictions around the world has severely affected the air travel industry. Philippine Airlines announced it will terminate approximately 300 employees as part of a restructuring plan due to the economic impact of COVID-19. Meanwhile, International Airlines Group, S.A. — the parent company of British Airways and Iberia — announced that it will not report financial results for fiscal year 2020 due to the outbreak.

EUROPE

Ireland / United Kingdom (Security threat levels – 2 / 3): Ireland’s Met Éireann and the U.K. Met Office have issued weather advisories for Storm Jorge from 28 February through 1 March 2020. In Ireland, Met Éireann issued an orange wind warning — the second level on the three-tier scale – for the counties of Clare, Donegal, Galway, Kerry, Leitrim, Mayo and Sligo throughout 29 February. Sustained winds of up to 80 kph (50 mph) with higher gusts of up to 130 kph are expected. Authorities also issued yellow alerts — the lowest on the three-tier scale — for significant rainfall and flooding across the country. Power outages, downed trees and hazardous road conditions are expected throughout the weekend.

In the U.K., authorities have issued several yellow warnings for much of the country. Storm Jorge is expected to most significantly impact Northern Ireland, Wales and western England. Severe flooding from heavy rainfall of up to 80 mm (3 in) is expected across northern England and Wales. Authorities have issued 70 flood warnings as much of the region continues to cope with flooding from Storms Ciara and Storm Dennis. Disruptions to bus, car, ferry and rail transportation are expected through at least 1 March.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Guinea (Security threat level – 4): The Guinean military remains on high alert as of 28 February 2020, ahead of the legislative elections and constitutional referendum scheduled for 1 March. Security forces are conducting patrols throughout the capital Conakry through at least 3 March, and will provide increased security near polling areas on election day. At least five opposition parties have announced a boycott of the elections, along with their intention to prevent voting from taking place. In addition to the legislative elections, Guineans will vote on a draft constitution, which includes measures to enable President Alpha Condé to seek a third term in the October 2020 presidential election. Since October 2019, opposition leaders have organized protests against Condé’s efforts to run for a third term, which have resulted in the deaths of at least 30 people due to protest-related violence. As a precaution, travelers and expatriates in Guinea should avoid polling stations and limit non-essential ground movements to the extent possible on election day due to the potential for unrest and violence.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Albania (Security threat level – 3): On 28 February 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Tirana issued a Demonstration Alert, which reads in part as follows:
"Location: Announced gathering points include, but are not limited to, the following areas in Tirana, Albania:

  • Deshmoret e Kombit Boulevard

"Event: A political rally is expected to take place on March 2, 2020 beginning around 5:00 p.m. The duration of the expected rally is unknown. Past demonstrations have included violence. Security forces have used water cannons and tear gas to disperse crowds."

Mali (Security threat level – 5): On 28 February 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Bamako issued a Demonstration Alert, which reads in part as follows:

“Location: Announced gathering points include, but are not limited to, the following places in Bamako, Mali:

  • Bourse du Travail
  • Monument d’Independence

“Event: Various Dogon associations are planning a peaceful march at 2:00 PM on Saturday, February 29 in support of Dogon communities. They plan to march from the Bourse du Travail to the Monument d’Independence. This event is authorized by the government.

“While this meeting is expected to be peaceful, other gatherings of large groups in Bamako have caused traffic disruptions and resulted in burning of tires and the deployment of tear gas.
“U.S. citizens are strongly advised to avoid the march area on Saturday, February 29, 2020.”