Worldview Security Update – February 3, 2020
3-Feb-20

ASIA

China / Australia / Indonesia / Iraq / Israel / New Zealand / Pakistan / Vietnam / Germany / Japan / Thailand / United Kingdom / United States / South Korea (Security threat levels – 3 / 2 / 4 / 5 / 3 / 1 / 5 / 3 / 3 / 1 / 3 / 3 / 2): As of 3 February 2020, nearly 17,500 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) with 362 deaths have been reported worldwide. Multiple cities in China continue to be under a central government-mandated quarantine that restricts freedom of movement. Notably, Chinese officials expanded the lockdown in Huanggang city, located in easternmost Hubei province, where reportedly only one family member may leave a household every two days to purchase necessities. All others must remain at home unless performing medical duties or seeking help. Authorities in the coastal city of Wenzhou, located nearly 795 km (490 mi) from Huanggang, have implemented similar measures.

In Hong Kong, thousands of hospital employees have voted to strike on 3 February to force Hong Kong officials to close all borders with mainland China amid growing concern regarding the coronavirus outbreak. Hong Kong has thus far closed 10 out of 13 border crossings with mainland China. Likewise, Chinese authorities in the mainland have suspended visas for mainland residents, including those in Shenzhen, for travel to Hong Kong and Macao.

Businesses are announcing precautionary measures to curb the spread of the virus. For example, the American technology company Apple will close all stores in mainland China, citing concerns over the coronavirus outbreak. At least 49 airlines have temporarily suspended all flights to mainland China and 25 more are reducing flights in part due to the increasing number of countries denying entry to travelers coming from China.

Countries are implementing a varying degree of precautionary travel restrictions as the virus spreads internationally. During 1-2 February, numerous countries denied entry to travelers from mainland China, halted flights, adopted increased monitoring measures for incoming travelers, or implemented 14-day mandatory or self-monitored quarantines. The most recent countries to implement such measures — though not an exhaustive list — includes Australia, Indonesia, Iraq, Israel, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Korea, Vietnam, and Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan. Germany, Japan and Thailand are joining the rapidly growing list of countries evacuating their nationals from China. Additionally, the British government is evacuating its embassy staff. Evacuation flights are usually followed by quarantine. Moreover, passengers on evacuation flights to Australia, Germany and Japan have tested positive for coronavirus.

The U.S. Embassy and consulates in China will be closed from 3-7 February at the direction of Chinese authorities. Further, the U.S. is directing that flights arriving from Chinese airports land at seven predesignated airports inside the U.S. However, these restrictions do not apply to flights from Hong Kong or Taiwan.

EUROPE

Montenegro (Security threat level – 2): On 2 February 2020, approximately 200,000 demonstrators protested across Montenegro — a country with a population of nearly 600,000. Protesters gathered in Bar, Berane, Bijelo, Pljevlja, Podgorica, Polje, Mojkovak, and Niksic to demonstrate against the Freedom of Religion Act. Under the act — passed in December 2019 — religious communities must prove property ownership before 1918, when Montenegro, at that time majority Orthodox Christian, joined the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. If a religious community cannot provide proof of ownership prior to 1918, the Montenegrin government may seize the property. Protesters of the now-majority Serbian Orthodox Church perceive the government’s measure as meant to increase the power of the Montenegrin Orthodox Church. The protests were largely peaceful.
United Kingdom (Security threat level – 3): On 2 February 2020, a man armed with a knife attacked people on Streatham High Road in the south London suburb of Streatham. The man attempted to attack several people before police officers shot and killed him. A police spokesperson stated that the assailant wore a fake explosives-laden vest during the attack. At least three people were wounded during the attack. Officials stated that the attacker had been released from jail in January 2020, after a conviction for spreading extremist materials and gathering instructions on bomb making and knife attacks. The man had been under government surveillance ahead of the attack. The Islamic State group has claimed that the attacker was one of its soldiers, but U.K. officials have not commented on the claim.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

China (Security threat level – 3): On 2 February 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Beijing issued a notification that reads in part as follows:
“Mission China will be closed to the public from February 3-7 in accordance with Chinese government guidance. Emergency American citizen services will be available.”
More information can be found at the following link
Panama (Security threat level – 3): On 31 January 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Panama City issued a Security Alert, which reads in part as follows:
“Location: Colon, Panama
“Event: La Alianza Causa Justa Colon is advertising two days of protests in the Colon area, February 3-4. There is a likelihood of civil unrest and an increase in violent criminal activity typically associated with these types of protests. These protests will include the closure of major roads in/around the city.
“U.S. Embassy Panama has prohibited the travel of all Embassy personnel to Colon during the aforementioned dates.”
South Sudan (Security threat level – 5): On 31 January 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Juba issued a Security Alert, which reads in part as follows:
“Location: Juba & country-wide
“Event: Recent information suggests terrorists continue to actively plot attacks against the U.S. Embassy and U.S. government personnel. They may conduct attacks with little or no warning, targeting hotels, restaurants, shopping areas, and other areas where large crowds gather and westerners frequent.”